The Actors Centre, the UK’s leading development organisation for the acting profession, with its main-house performance the Tristan Bates Theatre, has announced a new direction, including major progamming changes and a new senior leadership team.
The Centre’s John Thaw Studio, which currently stages the celebrated John Thaw Initiative, will see the introduction of one-week runs for work-in-progress productions, which will also include free rehearsal space prior to first performances, as well as access to the management team for advice and guidance, helping to support artists with their development. There will be no up-front costs, and the space will be offered on a box-office split.
This unique space hopes to open doors for creativity and the future of important works, leading to possible runs at the Centre’s Tristan Bates Theatre and beyond. One of the first plays to make this jump will be Cliffordkuju Henry‘s In Search of a White Identity. First performed as a work-in-progress as part of the John Thaw Studio’s Working Class season, curated by Actor Awareness, the play will receive performances on 27 and 28 March 2020 in the Tristan Bates, produced in association with the Centre.
🚨 EXTRA PERFORMANCE ADDED 🚨
You asked, we listened! Due to phenomenal demand, we have added an additional performance for In Search of a White Identity at 2.30pm on Saturday, 28 March.
All other performances are SOLD OUT.
— Tristan Bates Theatre (@TristanBates) March 2, 2020
Further ahead, in a bid to build the Tristan Bates into a pivotal Off-West End theatre, the organisation will also introduce a year-round programme of longer, four-week runs from October 2020. This is part of a wider revamp to the programming and running of the venue, providing high-quality work alongside UK, European and world premieres of plays and musicals.
Leading the new changes at the Centre is a new senior management team. Amanda Davey takes on the role of Chief Executive, having previously served as Co-Chief Executive of Greenwich Dance. She will lead the strategic and artistic vision for the organisation, while Mitchell Reeve takes the reins as Theatre Programme Manager. Mitchell is both a producer and General Manager in his own right, with credits including The Gulf and San Domino at Tristan Bates and the premiere of last year’s Dark Sublime at Trafalgar Studios. Their first season will be announced later in the year and will run from October 2020.
Mitchell Reeve commented:
“I am incredibly honoured and excited to take the reins as Theatre Programme Manager at The Actors Centre — a space dedicated to supporting, developing and nurturing creative talent. In this respect, I am delighted to open up our John Thaw Studio as a home for week-long, work-in-progress pieces wherein productions can truly develop and flourish. I am also excited to introduce longer runs at the Tristan Bates Theatre, where audiences will get the chance to experience a host of UK, European and world premieres.”
Chief Executive Amanda Davey added: “In the current political climate, the arts are more essential than ever – they not only reflect society but have the ability to inform and transform. I am looking forward to a programme of theatre that questions, challenges, entertains and delights in equal measure, and above all, reflects the dynamism and diversity of contemporary UK theatre.”
About The Actors Centre
The Actors Centre is the UK’s leading professional development organisation, supporting actors and creative talent throughout their careers. Through an unrivalled programme of diverse workshops and masterclasses — led by distinguished practitioners from the worlds of theatre, film and television — The Actors Centre provides an essential space for artists to network, to share, to create, to thrive. The Centre strives to programme an eclectic mix of original, evocative, diverse and challenging theatre that attracts a wide and varied audience. At the core of the organisation is a commitment to supporting artists — offering opportunities to emerging, as well as established, artists and companies.
The Centre’s flagship theatre space, the 70-seat Tristan Bates Theatre, established in 1994, has become a celebrated Off-West End venue, presenting high-quality, plays and musicals. The smaller space, the John Thaw Studio, promotes work-in-progress and allows artists to receive vital feedback on work currently in development. The John Thaw Studio is also home to the John Thaw Initiative, with each season tailored towards supporting a particular demographic of artist, or a particular theme of work.
History of The Actors Centre
The Actors Centre was established in 1978 by Clive Swift, Sheila Hancock, John Alderton and William Hobs as an essential resource for professional actors. The vision of its founders was to create a space where working actors could network and support each other as well as continue their professional training. The first Actors Centre workshops took place in the same year on Tottenham Court Road, led by Sir Ian McKellen. Sir Laurence Olivier became the Centre’s founding Patron, with notable early members and tutors including Academy Award-winning actors and filmmakers such as Dame Judi Dench and Danny Boyle.
In 1986, Sir Alec Guinness succeeded Sir Laurence Olivier as Patron. Following a number of years in rented premises, in 1994 The Actors Centre found its current home at 1A Tower Street when the building was purchased following an appeal led by Sir Anthony Hopkins.
In the same year that The Actors Centre secured a permanent address, Sir Alan Bates became the organisation’s Patron and established the Tristan Bates Theatre in memory of his late son. The Centre was soon transformed into a bustling creative hub, offering vital continuous actor training alongside curated seasons of professional work from emerging and established companies. In 2005, the Alan Bates Bursary was also created in memory of the actor.
In the ensuing years, the organisation received a number of high-profile, leading actors as Patrons including Dame Julie Walters, Rafe Spall, Joely Richardson and David Harewood, with Indira Varma and Joseph Millson serving as the current Patrons.