Sarah makes theatre experience Affordable — Oh yes she does . . .

Published on: 28 Aug 2013

Dan Masters affordable Arts

INSTEAD of sitting back and moaning how expensive it is to take a family to the theatre, Downend mum-of-four Sarah Trevatt decided to do something about it.

Having been production director of the old Bristol gang shows, Sarah knew a thing or two about theatre.

And she knew there were many families who were missing out on the joy of watching a live performance because of the cost.

She rallied her thespian friends together and the Affordable Theatre Company was born.

Just months later the group – a not for profit organisation - had a sell-out panto on its hands and Sarah’s inbox was inundated with messages of support from audience members who knew they had witnessed something very special indeed.

Sarah, 35, who lives with partner Mark Brimson, said it was important to foster a love of the theatre at an early age but there were too many youngsters not being given the opportunity.

“My partner and I realised that if we would have gone to watch a professional pantomime with the children, by the time we parked, bought ice-creams and tickets, it would have cost just short of £200.

“A lot of my friends who are actors, directors and teachers of drama decided that children were missing out on theatre experience because families can’t afford to go.

 “We decided there and then we’d get together and put on a pantomime. So we did and we sold out in two days.”

The panto was Cinderella and was performed at Bromley Heath School last December to an extremely appreciative audience.

“We basically built a theatre within the school hall,” Sarah, a freelance musical theatre teacher, explained.

“After the email box was swamped with people gushing about it,” 

Sarah, a freelance musical theatre teacher has used her contacts in the business to build up a core team of actors and people to help behind the scenes who are aged from 12 to 60.

In December the Affordable Theatre Company will return to Bromley Heath School to perform Aladdin. And the group is certainly living up to its name - tickets are a very reasonable £6 for adults and £4 for children and will even include a visit to Santa’s grotto, since the group has deemed the price of shopping centre grottos prohibitive to many parents.

“We’ve already sold out one night and we haven’t even advertised yet,” Sarah says proudly.

“It was all from the strength of last year’s panto. I haven’t finished writing the script! It just shows what a need there is and as it’s held in the community people can walk there and maybe pop into their local pub for a drink on the way.”

The success of the panto led Sarah to set up a business arm of the group which offers affordable drama classes after school in Downend and Emersons Green. The ATC Minis, for children aged 6-12, have proved so successful there are waiting lists and Sarah is now in the process of employing more teachers so she can set up additional classes.

There are also plans for an ATC Inc class for children with learning and physical difficulties.

So what level of professionalism can people expect from the shows?

“Everybody is either studying performing arts or has done that a long time ago and perhaps now direct plays in their spare time. Some are learners, some are semi-professional and some are old pros who are doing it for fun. We’re quite a broad spectrum.”

Sarah, who has a six-month-old baby, five-year-old twins and a twelve-year-old daughter, admits she’s certainly busy but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Even when I was a teenager I was producing theatre,” she said.

“I choreographed quite a lot for Bristol Gang Show and took over as production director when I was 23. I learnt on my feet and from that I’ve done various things including something called Casting Couch where I worked with students who had just graduated to put together showcase pieces for agents.

“I’m lucky, I get to do what I love doing.”

To find out more about the Affordable Theatre Company visit www.affordabletheatre.com or to book tickets for Aladdin, which takes place from December 18-20, email boxoffice@affordabletheatre.com 

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