The Hackney Empire will temporarily cease offering its usual mainstage programming in January, according to published reports. The London venue will continue to offer a full slate of productions until the end of the year and it is expected that the theater will reopen in late 2010 with a holiday-time panto.

During the dark period, a skeleton staff will be retained. This development follows the departure of artistic director and chief executive Simon Thomsett, who left the venue "by mutual consent" last month. He has been replaced by Clarie Middleton as interim chief executive, who has indicated that the theater is not undergoing a full closure.

For further information, visit www.hackneyempire.co.uk.