January 2020

20 January 2020

The three emerging theatre makers who will work with the Northcott as part of its new Northcott Futures Associates Programme

Exeter Northcott Theatre has unveiled the three South West theatre makers who will create new work as part of its newly-launched Associate Company Programme.

Poet, playwright, actor and composer Jack Dean will join internationally-renowned choreographer Richard Chappell and theatre maker and activist Viv Gordon on the Exeter Northcott Futures project.

The talented trio will work with the theatre as part of the talent development programme which was unveiled in October after an intensive consultation with theatre makers across the region.

Exeter Northcott Futures – funded by the Noel Coward Foundation, the Mackintosh Foundation and Idlewild Trust – offers professional development for artists at the start of their careers, support for regionally-based companies at a critical moment in their development and a launch pad for the next generation of producers.

Producer Helen Bovey, who was recently appointed as part of the scheme, said: “We are delighted to welcome these exciting artists, who have already had a huge impact on the arts scene in the region, and support their growth to develop new ambitious projects and reach larger audiences.




“Viv Gordon has been leading the way in developing a practice of arts activism in the South West and now she will have a base here at the Northcott to grow and expand her work. Jack Dean has long been a favourite in Exeter with his signature style of storytelling which, as he describes it, lands somewhere between myth, memory and history. Richard Chappell is an internationally renowned choreographer with roots in Exeter and audiences all over the Globe. For all three artists, this programme felt like a perfect fit and I can’t wait to see how their projects develop.”

Richard Chappell

Exeter Futures is a three-tier programme, spanning eighteen months, which provides a tailored package of support and resources to help emerging South West-based companies to realise an important creative ambition or deliver a key strategic development.

Alongside the Associates Programme there is an Early Career Artists Programme – a six-month series of workshops, masterclasses and mentoring designed to kick-start career development.

This programme is open to performers, directors, designers and other makers, and has been created to provide opportunities to gain new skills and knowledge, develop new collaborations and create and present new work in Exeter.

There is also a Producers Programme, which offers a practical introduction to the role of producer and the specific skills/knowledge involved in mounting a successful production.

Viv Gordon, a writer and performer of overtly political and feminist themes, has already toured work nationally.

She said: “This is a brilliant opportunity for me at a pivotal stage in my development helping me access expertise and networks and connect with new artists and audiences to grow my practice to the next level.

Viv Gordon

“Having worked in Exeter on different projects over the years, it’s exciting to now be supported by the team at the Northcott to think ambitiously and strategically about my work developing visibility and voice for survivors of childhood sexual abuse and engaging the local community in arts activism projects.”

Richard Chappell, who formed his dance ensemble in 2013, has already worked with a string of well-known names, including the Royal Opera House and Studio Wayne McGregor.

Richard, a former artist in residence for Dance in Devon, said: “The venue’s energy, diverse programming and dedication to dance has allowed audiences to embrace a wide range of leading contemporary dance and ballet companies and we’re thrilled to work with the theatre to expand on future projects as a leading dance ensemble in the South West of England.

“We’re hoping to charge the theatre with electric collaborations whilst soaking up the staff’s diverse and extensive knowledge as our company grows.”

Jack Dean, whose work focuses on myth, memory and history, has toured internationally, including performances at Latitude Festival, the South Bank Centre and the Bowery Poetry Club in New York.

Jack Dean

He is the creator of the Fake Town Fables and Infinite Hex podcasts; he releases hip hop music under the name Rap Bear Three, for which he was BBC Introducing’s Fave Find in 2019.

“The Northcott gave me my first ever opportunity to perform on a professional stage, way back when I was a chorus member in Polly Agg Manning’s The Bacchae for the Young Company,” he added.

“I wouldn’t be making performance today if it weren’t for that experience. It’s a real honour to have the chance to work with them to see where the next chapter in my artistic output will be.”

Artistic Director and Chief Executive Daniel Buckroyd said the programme aims to build on the Northcott’s long tradition of supporting new talent.

He said: “Exeter has an extraordinary track record of nurturing creative talent, particularly in theatre and the performing arts, with many actors, directors, designers, writers, producers and technicians having started their careers in the city, and a number of high profile theatre companies having their roots in Devon.

“At the Northcott we believe it’s vital that Exeter remains a place where people come to make amazing theatre, not just a stopping off point for touring shows made elsewhere. Which is why we’re delighted to be working with a number of the city’s other arts organisations to think about what we can do collectively to support artists.

“Exeter Northcott Futures is a comprehensive package of new talent development opportunities that will put the next generation of theatre-making talent centre stage at the Northcott.”

Dom Jinks, Exeter Culture Director, added: “The Futures programme very much addresses a city need to provide more progression and experience in the professional cultural sector for new and emerging talent. This has been identified within the new cultural strategy for Exeter and I am delighted to see this programme.”

14 January 2020

Two-year community project to explore archive stories and voices awarded £143K National Lottery funding

Exeter Northcott Theatre has been awarded a £143,500 National Lottery grant by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to engage the local community in a new project to explore its archive.

Since 1967, the Northcott has created a rich history of producing and creating theatre, launching the careers of many famous faces from stage and screen.

During the 1970s and 1980s, stars such as Celia Imrie, John Nettles, Imelda Staunton, Robert Lindsay and David Suchet all trod the boards as part of the repertory company.

A unique collection including photographs, posters, programmes, stage plans, press cuttings and scripts has been gathered, stored and recently catalogued.

The Audience Makers project will allow Exeter communities to delve into this rich history, its stories and voices, to expand the archive by generating new memories.

Daniel Buckroyd, the Northcott’s Artistic Director and Chief Executive, said: “The archive is a veritable treasure trove which spans more than half a century in the theatrical life of Exeter and Devon.

“Theatre, like society, is constantly evolving so the collection also offers a fascinating view of the world through the lens of performance.

“We felt the best way to make use of this amazing resource and to turn it into a lasting legacy was to let local people interpret the contents and identify the elements which they think stand out.

“I am sure the project will enrich the local theatre ecology by engaging new audiences and amplifying new voices. Hopefully, like theatre, it might spark some interesting debates and even throw up a few surprises.”

Robert Lindsay in Guys and Dolls from 1971, photo by Nicholas Toyne

The archive is a valuable piece of South West theatre history and is currently being catalogued by the University of Exeter Special Collections.

It contains operational and production records spanning the period from its opening in 1967 to its refurbishment in 2007.

Audience Makers – a partnership project with the University of Exeter through their Digital Humanities and Special Collections departments, and the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum – will work with a range of community partners to engage new voices and explore representation and voice within the archive.

Imelda Staunton, photo by Nicholas Toyne

This will include schools, organisations working with adults facing barriers to accessing heritage and theatre, such as CEDA (Community Equality Disability Action), and those working with older people with health and care needs such as Age UK Exeter.

The two-year scheme will open up this resource to new audiences, sparking debate into the relevance of its stories and the role of regional theatre today.

Stuart McLeod, Director London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, we’re delighted to support the Northcott’s innovative project.

“The theatre’s archive is a fascinating resource with huge potential to bring together diverse groups of people, but what really makes Audience Makers special is the way it puts people in charge of shaping the project, picking out and focussing on the elements that make it genuinely relevant to the 21st century.”

Big Noise at Fortissimo, photo by Nicholas Toyne

Three permanent installation pieces will be created as part of the project and elements of the archive and stories will be made accessible online through a new digital platform, hosted by the University of Exeter.

Other project activities will include work with schools on developing an educational resource, performance-based activities for community groups, and a series of touring events and exhibitions.

A heritage manager will be recruited to oversee the project, which will employ interns and provide work placements for students, thanks to funding from the university.

Dr Christine Faunch, Head of Heritage Collections at the University of Exeter, added: “I am delighted that the Northcott Theatre has been successful in securing Heritage funding for this audience-oriented project.

“The University has committed considerable resources to cataloguing this wonderful theatre collection, and to see the archive being used already as the basis for such an exciting project demonstrates very clearly the ongoing relevance of the theatre’s heritage to potentially new audiences. Our archivist, Caroline Walter, very much looks forward to working with the theatre on the project.”