June 2017

Dick Whittington Exeter Northcott Theatre Pantomime
29 June 2017

Dick Knit-tington Appeal

Exeter Northcott Theatre is appealing for knitters to help prepare for its Christmas pantomime.                                                  

The theatre would like volunteers to create knitted cupcakes that can be used during the 60 performances of Dick Whittington, which takes place from Saturday 2 December until Sunday 7 January.

As a thank you for the support the Northcott hopes to receive through the appeal, it has teamed up with Home-Start Exeter and housing provider DCH to offer 500 free pantomime tickets to families who may not be in a financial position to come to the theatre this Christmas.

“We are delighted to be partnering with the Exeter Northcott Theatre on projects to benefit local families.” Lea Dempster of Home-Start Exeter and East Devon said. “We are a voluntary organisation offering friendship and support to families with young children. Our unique service is provided by local volunteers, who are parents themselves, who give non-judgmental practical and emotional support to parents in situations such as depression, isolation, bereavement, multiple birth, illness or disability.  Through our partnership with the Northcott we hope to raise awareness of our organisation, as well as provide opportunities for children who might not normally be able to attend the theatre.”

Paul Marshall of DCH added “We are keen to work with our partners to benefit our customers. We know that having cultural opportunities is really important in broadening horizons and people’s general wellbeing. To work with the Northcott in this way gives us the chance to open up opportunities, get communities active and people coming together – it’s another great way we are showing that we are about so much more than houses.”

Exeter Northcott Theatre is grateful for Debbie Judd at community fibre arts space, Wool on the Exe, who is also supporting the appeal and will be providing donated yarn for free to any interested knitters.

Cupcake patterns are available to pick up in the Exeter Northcott box office or can be downloaded here.

Lisa Hudson, Exeter Northcott’s Education Officer saidWe are delighted to be offering 500 free tickets to deserving families in our community. To ensure these tickets get to the right places, we are indebted to DCH and Home Start for their support. We’re grateful in advance for Devon communities who are prepared to come together to create an important part of our pantomime”

Finished cupcakes can be handed in or posted to Exeter Northcott Theatre, Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QB, by Wednesday 1 November.

Dick Whittington runs at the Exeter Northcott Theatre from Saturday 2 December until Sunday 7 January.

27 June 2017

Arts Council England Announce Four Year Funding for Exeter Northcott Theatre

We are delighted that Arts Council England has recognised the invigorating work and vision of the Exeter Northcott Theatre and has awarded £125,000 a year over the period of the National Portfolio Programme for 2018 – 2022. This good news comes at a time when the Theatre is thriving, with 86 shows on offer this year, and audience numbers increased to over 92,000 in the last year. Our national touring co-production of E Nesbit’s The Railway Children opens in Newcastle this week and we have a vibrant autumn season now on sale, which includes People, Places & Things, a co-production with Headlong, the National Theatre and HOME.

The Arts Council’s recognition of the imaginative approach taken by the team at the Theatre is a welcome vote of confidence and we are looking forward to working with our key stakeholders and audiences to continue to build on our exciting programme.  We are committed to nurturing experience, training and skills and to working collaboratively. Arts Council England’s investment is a confident endorsement of our work together and is testament to the high regard in which the Theatre is held, particularly given the financially challenging times we live in.

ACE funding will support us to continue providing the high quality inspiration and entertainment enjoyed by our ever increasing and diversifying audience.

Chair, Lucy, Lady Studholme said:

“This is a happy day, and one that brings just reward and recognition for the entire team at the Exeter Northcott Theatre. With its loyal volunteers, and committed staff, the Theatre has successfully responded to the seismic changes and challenges that the performance world – particularly out of London – are facing, and along with the support and will of the main stakeholders, the University of Exeter and Exeter City Council, Arts Council England has invested in the future of theatre for Exeter.

Alongside this funding, the Northcott continues to grow and nurture local support from its increasing audiences and visionary philanthropists who understand how vital a live and learning performance hub is for the cultural health of Exeter and the Region. Working with colleagues across the City, the Exeter Northcott is delivering high quality wonderful, stimulating, entertaining – and sometimes challenging – performances to our growing audiences as well as nurturing talent and skills across all aspects of live performance for the future.

Under the leadership of Paul Jepson, the entire Northcott Theatre staff have worked extremely hard to achieve great things within a challenging budget, and in a climate of real threat to regional theatre. The recent programme has included top national touring productions such as The Play That Goes Wrong, La Strada and Death of a Salesman, as well as our own produced and co-produced work such as Betrayal and The Railway Children.

Hats off to Executive and Artistic Director Paul Jepson and his hard-working team of staff and volunteers. A big thank you to Arts Council England, and here’s to the Exeter Northcott Theatre and the future of live performance for Exeter.”


21 June 2017

Dame Judi Dench Announced as Exeter Northcott Theatre Anniversary Patron

Exeter Northcott Theatre is delighted to announce that the highly acclaimed and much loved actress Dame Judi Dench has accepted to be Patron for its 50th anniversary year, 2017-2018.

Dame Judi is admired around the world for a 60 year career of phenomenal performances on both stage and screen. She has won an Academy Award, ten BAFTA Awards and six Laurence Olivier Awards. In recognition of her many achievements, she received an OBE in 1970, became a DBE in 1988, and in 2005 was awarded a Companion of Honour.

Dame Judi was a long-time friend and colleague of the Northcott’s first director, Tony Church, has been patron of past Exeter Festivals and was also patron of the theatre’s former Friends scheme. The Northcott is greatly honoured that Dame Judi has agreed to become the patron at such an important time for the theatre.

Dame Judi Dench said “I have been associated with the Northcott Theatre for many years, so I was particularly pleased to be asked to be a Patron of the 50th Birthday Anniversary. With so many regional theatres having disappeared, it is important to support those that still survive and help them to thrive.”

Exeter Northcott Theatre first opened its doors in November 1967 and has helped launched the careers of celebrated actors including Imelda Staunton, Celia Imrie, Robert Lindsay, John Nettles, Geraldine James and David Suchet, and seen world premieres from playwrights such as Anthony Mingella and Howard Barker.

The anniversary celebrations will begin with an Anniversary Gala on Sunday 12th November 2017 to celebrate the theatre’s first 50 years and will raise funds to help strengthen the foundations for the next 50.

Lady (Lucy) Studholme, Chair of the Exeter Northcott Theatre said “It is with the greatest of pleasure and pride to be making this announcement, and welcome such a towering figure to the Exeter Northcott Theatre. Regional theatres, large and small, are the lifeblood of this country’s performance industries and provide training grounds for all aspects of the cultural industries that the U.K. is so admired for around the world. As Exeter grows as a destination for employment, education, training and entertainment, we are looking forward welcoming our many audiences and friends to a 50th Anniversary year of celebration, and preparation for the next 50.”

Tickets for Exeter Northcott Theatre’s 50th Anniversary Gala and new autumn season will go on sale on Friday 23 June.


Photo of Dame Judi Dench used with kind permission from Sarah Dunn www.sarahdunn.com


15 June 2017

5 Minutes With…Paul Jepson

Paul Jepson, director of The Railway Children and artistic and executive director fo Exeter Northcott Theatre, talks about the production and what it means to the theatre.

Does The Railway Children have any special significance to you?
It’s a story I remember reading as a child – and of course the Lionel Jeffries film – and the thing about it is that we all know that world doesn’t really exist anymore, yet at the same time we all yearn for it, because it promotes a tremendous sense of community and decency and trust that is missing from metropolitan life. You do see glimpses of that from time to time. When my family and I moved from London to Devon seven years ago, one of our neighbours left us a lemon cake on our doorstep just after we arrived, which was a lovely gesture of neighbourliness and welcome.

Who do you hope the production will appeal to?
Well, it’s a classic family show isn’t it? The children will want to see the train and I suppose the adults love it for that nostalgia for a lost age of kindness and community. It has that intrinsic family charm and innocence you don’t find very often now.

Set Design for The Railway Children by Timothy Bird
Set Design for The Railway Children by Timothy Bird








How will it be different from the long-running London   production?
The production at King’s Cross, which actually started life in York, was only available to people in those parts of the country,so we wanted to come up with a clever way of realising the story in a variety of venues. So I called up my friend Tim Bird who is a brilliant video designer to help me achieve that. He is using a combination of printed backdrops and pre-filmed projections to evoke the scenes involving the railway. We are also playing around with perspective. So we’re creating a video landscape but in a very theatrical way. I think it has the potential to be more effective than using a real train, which looks great but has to move very slowly. By using video, you can make those scenes a lot more dramatic and impressive.

Basically, there are two big train moments in the show, and your job is to make sure they pack a punch. There are actually a lot more challenging things for the director, such as getting the furniture on and off the stage, and ensuring a smooth transition
from one scene to the next. It’s quite a busy show, so it is important to make it feel light and fluid.

Aren’t you daunted by the technical challenges?
Not really, you have to embrace them. That’s part of making a modern design work. I know Tim and I trust him completely. We worked together on Betrayal, my first show at the Northcott, although this show is much more complicated.

Set Design for The Railway Children by Timothy Bird
Set Design for The Railway Children by Timothy Bird

How does the Northcott come to be co-producing it with Nick Brooke?
Nick Brooke suggested it to us, and I thought it sounded right for the Northcott. We have a strong family audience,which is growing. Nick and Kenny Wax have produced a lot of children’s shows together in the past. Nick Brooke Ltd and the Northcott are sharing the cost of the production; then Nick will take it out on tour.

I know you’re very keen to encourage local participation in the Northcott. Will you be using any talent from the south-west?
Yes, I’ve cast three small roles from people in the southwest. There is a lot more student engagement with the Northcott than there used to be. The student attendance is up by 45 per cent. Of course, there is still more to do. We have a thriving education and outreach programme. Exeter College Performance Academy, launched last September with a small cohort, is a partnership between University of Exeter, the Northcott and Exeter College. We’re hoping it will be an exciting way for young people to develop an interest in the theatre. We intend to help with placements where we can.

The Railway Children runs at Exeter Northcott from Fri 16 – Sun 25 June before embarking on a major UK tour.