Don’t let the cur­tain come down

Youth the­atre faces clo­sure un­less it can find new home

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - What’s On - By Adele Couch­man

Ash­ford’s much-loved youth the­atre could be forced to bring the fi­nal cur­tain down after 33 years of ex­is­tence – un­less it can find a new home. Founded in Jan­uary 1983, Ash­ford Youth The­atre has hosted 64 main pro­duc­tions. Its first was Othello and the most re­cent was Doc­tor Faus­tus in Septem­ber last year. But one of Ash­ford’s long­est run­ning the­atri­cal com­pa­nies could soon come to an end fol­low­ing an evic­tion no­tice from Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil ear­lier this year. The non-profit mak­ing group has been told to quit their home of the last 13 years in Dover Place, and des­per­ately needs to find a new home. The com­mu­nity group has filled six ship­ping con­tain­ers with its the­atre equip­ment, but has nowhere to house ev­ery­thing.

Stella Critchley, who co-founded the the­atre, said: “When I look back at the young peo­ple who have gained so much con­fi­dence and life ex­pe­ri­ence from us, it would be such a shame if the the­atre was to go.

“We at­tract kids from all dif­fer­ent schools and back­grounds here. Our pro­duc­tion of Doc­tor Faus­tus clearly demon­strated the tal­ent we have, and it was great to see the cast grow and make the text their own.”

The the­atre com­pany has built a rep­u­ta­tion be­yond the con­fines of Ash­ford, with many of its alumni go­ing on to ac­tive ca­reers as pro­fes­sional ac­tors.

Shane Tay­lor, who at­tended the group when he was at South Kent Col­lege, starred in the Sec­ond World War drama Band of Brothers after he re­ceived a schol- ar­ship at the Web­ber Dou­glas Academy of Dra­matic Arts in Lon­don.

Stella Critchley, who has funded and ad­min­is­tered the group since it opened in 1983, was awarded an MBE in 2007 in recog­ni­tion of the lo­cal and re­gional sig­nif­i­cance of her work with the youth the­atre.

To pre­vent its clo­sure the the­atre group need a new base where it can stage shows and store a large quan­tity of equip­ment, cos­tumes and props — al­though this doesn’t need to be a con­ven­tional the­atre.

Ash­ford Youth The­atre is be­ing forced to leave its cur­rent base as part of ABC’s Dover Place re­de­vel­op­ment scheme.

If you know any­where suit­able to house the Ash­ford Youth The­atre please con­tact Stella Critchley on 01233 638680

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Ash­ford Youth The­atre pro­duc­tions over the last three decades have in­cluded, clock­wise from top left, Dr Syn, The Tem­pest, Dr Faus­tus, Mo­tor­town, A Mid­sum­mer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night and No Man’s Land Tech­ni­cal man­ager Pat Seg­gery and Harry Triggs load an­other con­tainer; Stella Critchley with the ship­ping con­tain­ers hold­ing the elec­tri­cal equip­ment Pic­tures: Paul Amos

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