How Did The Arches Theatre Happen?

For those of you who know me, I have worked in theatre and TV for many years. I have a real passion for acting and being on the stage, whether that's in a Christmas Pantomime as one of the Dames alongside Chesney Hawkes, acting with my local comedy troupe, Milton Keynes Theatre of Comedy, or singing with my band, The Bolivian Sunshine Dogs ...

I wanted to bring a theatre with a difference to Olney to give not only local theatre troupes the opportunity to put on their own production; but also give a fun, quirky and live experience to local theatregoers where they didn't have to pay through the nose for tickets.

I didn't know how it was all going to happen. It wasn't until I saw my friend Amy Marchant and her professional Shakespeare theatre troupe, The Wet Mariners, at The Willow Globe Theatre, Wales in 2017, that we had a light bulb moment.

Within our farmland in Clifton Reynes, there is an old disused railway line, complete with four beautiful arches. For many years we left the railway alone and I hadn't really given it a second thought. That was until my wife, Julie, suggested the railway arches as an outdoor theatre venue. The rest, as they say, is history!

"After a few days of cutting back bushes, nettles and ivy, cleaning of brickwork and general cultivating; we uncovered an absolute gem!"

When we officially launched in 2018, we invited The Wet Mariners to open the theatre; after all, they were the inspiration behind it. They gave a fantastic performance of Shakespeare's 'As You Like It' to a sold-out audience of just over 100. Everything was just fantastic - from the acting and staging to the weather and audience.

Our second year was just as great. The Wet Mariners returned to perform two sell out shows of 'Romeo and Juliet'; and Milton Keynes Theatre of Comedy staged a hilarious adaptation of 'The Pink Panther - A Shot in the Dark'.

Now in our third year, we are working hard to bring more fantastic live theatre to you this summer. We hope that our performances will go ahead, but we will of course have to follow the advice and guidelines set by the Government.

If things go to plan, The Wet Mariners are returning with their production of 'The Merchant of Venice', MKTOC is coming back with another side-splitting show, 'Allo 'Allo!', and local theatre company, Etcetera, are debuting with their magical production of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'.

This is how I envisaged The Arches Theatre - local and professional theatre troupes, complete with hardworking and talented cast members, providing great production choices ensuring there is something for everyone.

I am very proud of how far the theatre has come in such a short time, and the interest it is getting from theatre companies both near and further afield. I'd like to thank all of you who have joined us at one of our performances and those who have already bought tickets for this summer. I hope you enjoyed your experience with us and you will come back again.

Our plans are to grow and show more productions each year. If you are a theatre company and interested in being part of our summer schedule for next year, please do get in touch!

I hope you are all safe and well. I hope to see you all soon.

If you'd like to find out more about anything I've written here, call me on 01234 241357 or leave a comment below and I'll be in touch.