How Did The Arches Theatre Happen?
It's been a brilliant journey so far ...
Posted by David Pibworth on 05/05/2020 @ 8:00AM
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 ...
The Arches Theatre took a lot of tidying up to get it ready for productions!
copyright: the arches theatre / david pibworth productions
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 brickwork and general cultivating; we uncovered a 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.
Until next time ...
Would you like to know more?
If anything I've written in this blog post resonates with you and you'd like to discover more, it may be a great idea to give me a call on 01234 241357 and let's see how I can help you.
About David Pibworth ...
David is the owner and Artistic Director of The Arches Theatre in Clifton Reynes near Milton Keynes. Productions are underneath some flood arches on the disused Midland railway line (Bedford to Northampton). It is equidistant from Bedford, Northampton and Milton Keynes. You bring your food, drink and chairs and enjoy the varied shows that are produced. This year - 2022 - there are 12 productions on throughout the season, from Shakespeare to Ripping Yarns plus a music weekend.
David has been involved in 'Light Ent' for many years, working with Ray Galton and Alan Simpson adapting the scripts of 'Steptoe and Son' and those of Tony Hancock to the stage. He has produced shows for Norman Wisdom (which makes him feel old), Al Murray, and Joe Pasquale amongst others, and also worked in the music business promoting and producing shows with Chas and Dave, Neil Inness, Kenny Ball, Acker Bilk and others of that ilk.
He is also the director of a film school for young people in his home town of Olney as well as supporting many local events.
He recently negotiated permission from Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais to stage a short run of 'Porridge' on stage which proved a success.
This year the annual charity performance at The Arches Theatre will be the last of 'Ripping Yarns' by Michael Palin and Terry Jones, with the profits being donated to The National Brain Appeal' for research into dementia as David's father and uncle died of it, as did Michael Palin's friend and writing partner Terry Jones. Last year they raised an astonishing £10,000 and are hoping to get somewhere close again with the support of audiences and sponsors.
David also has a stage hire company and his wife Julie runs a livery yard, so they are surrounded by horses, dogs, light entertainment and and a 17 year old daughter.
He plays in a comedy jazz band and collects strange props such as the Spitting Image puppets of Denis Thatcher and Alan Bennett, the child catchers bike from the stage show of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and various other 'things' all of which he sells to raise money for the Arches Theatre, although he always finds it hard to part from these props. However as the theatre receives no funding at all, he is always devising ways to keep it going! Sponsors are always welcome!
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