CAMILLE BERRIMAN: Theatre needs us all to squeeze in

A personal view
A personal view
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Over the past couple of months, thousands of people have visited it and its walls have been filled with screams of delight from youngsters and howls of laughter from grown-ups.

Over the past couple of months, thousands of people have visited it and its walls have been filled with screams of delight from youngsters and howls of laughter from grown-ups.

Over recent decades it has undergone a transformation, from a dilapidated barrel store to a charming restored building. Over almost two centuries it has entertained our community.

I’m talking about the Theatre Royal, in Westgate Street.

Although I was not one of the thousands in the audience for Aladdin, I have visited the theatre twice in the last fortnight. The first time was not for a performance, rather a reception to launch the Irving Stage Company’s sponsored box.

After a ribbon-cutting ceremony the evening ended with me – and many fellow local amateur thespians – perched precariously on the back of a theatre seat as we attempted to see how many people we could get into the aforementioned box (we concluded 15 is about the maximum before you become uncomfortably familiar with your neighbours).

Then, Saturday evening saw me in the audience for an improvised musical by the hugely talented Showstopper! team. In two hours the actors, assisted by some superb audience participation, transported me to the cheese mines on the dark side of the moon, via a mouse disco.

But in-between the delights of the annual pantomime, squeezing into a box and joining in what I have coined ‘The Mice Warp’, an important fact could be forgotten: The Theatre Royal needs our support if it is to survive. The term ‘use it or lose it’ has never been more appropriate.

Every year the theatre has to raise 80 per cent of its income. A good portion of this is covered through ticket sales and the bar, but the theatre’s development department is tasked with raising the remaining 14 per cent: £200,000.

The team does this through sponsorship), fund-raising events, charitable trust applications and individual giving. And Julia Read, the development manager, is always on the lookout for supporters. To find out more call her on 01284 829942 or email julia@theatreroyal.org.