In the run-up to the General Election, it could be said that our cultural mojo is the regions is faltering, as fading town centres struggle to compete with online shopping and arts programming withers under the devastating blow of local authority funding cuts. Fighting against this negative social and economic tide, is the North Somerset seaside town of Broadchurch fame, Clevedon. Here, two local companies The Theatre Orchard and Living Spit are joining forces to transform an empty retail unit into an ambitious ‘Theatre Shop’ that is set to revive the heart of the high street this spring.
In small towns up and down the country all eyes should be on ‘Theatre Shop’ when it opens for trade on 23 April 2015 stocked to bursting with a first season of theatre, music, magic, dance, cabaret, comedy and street arts – 51 separate performances and events across 32 days. From Living Spit’s topical comedy ‘The Devil and the Shopkeeper’ to Verity Standen’s sell-out musical work ‘Mmm Hmm’ to comedian Richard Herring, there is something to suit everyone’s taste, performed in a space where everybody will feel welcome.
Clevedon Pier, which recently found fame as the setting for One Direction’s Brit Award winning video ‘You and I’, is thrust into the spotlight again as 18 dancers from Ballet Central perform a windswept Barre Class by the sea, with an open invitation for the public to join in. Theatre Shop satellite performances will also spill out into Clevedon’s iconic cinema the Curzon where live premieres include an Election Night special – ‘Songs from the 70s’ – from the “captivating” musical talent that is Kate Dimbleby. Kate bravely goes face-to-face with her father David as he hosts his final BBC Election Broadcast on May 7th – a unique opportunity for this town to revel in not one but two of society’s lifebloods – culture and politics – both delivered with customary Dimbleby panache.
Fiona Matthews, Creative Producer for The Theatre Orchard comments “There is widespread excitement across North Somerset about the Theatre Shop season, showcasing some of the UK’s best performance in a vibrant shop-front theatre right on the high street. This isn’t black box stuff for those in the know; it’s an exciting programme of culture for everyone, presented in the places and spaces that they visit everyday.”
And a winning endorsement from Peter Lord, Creative Director of Aardman:
“You can’t beat the feeling you get from sharing a space with a live audience and performers. The humanity, the intimacy and the sense of community that come from these shared experiences seem to be to be right at the heart of being human. And why should the Big Cities have a monopoloy in this? Well of course they shouldn’t and they don’t.
Projects such as Theatre shop thrive because committed and passionate people can work a special magic in small successful communities like Clevedon.”
A full programme of Theatre Shop’s events are available on their website!