Exciting times at Camberley Theatre!

Not only has the main auditorium been completely refurbished, (including gorgeous, plush new seats), but there have also been a few promotions and new members of the team welcomed.

Here they are to explain….

Congratulations on your new role at Camberley Theatre! Please can you introduce yourself and let us know your new job title and what that basically involves for you?

Andy Edmeads

Andy Edmeads

I’m Andy and I’ve been a part of the Surrey Heath family for nearly 5 years and have spent 2 years at the Theatre. My job as Venue and Operations Manager includes booking shows, managing the different teams, organising events and producing the pantomime!

Nick Duncan

Nick Duncan.JPG

Hi there I am now the Senior Lighting and Sound Technician. My jobs include liaising with companies to ensure their technical requirements when they arrive are being met. I oversee the live and sound technicians and apprentice technician. I assist with get in and get outs of all shows incoming and our own and look after the over-all maintenance of the building.

Zoe Stanton

ZoeStanton

Hi, I’m Zoe Stanton and I am a Front Of House Officer. My role involves being Duty Manager at the theatre, as well as being responsible for customer feedback and monitoring. I am also taking a leading role in organising and developing children’s parties.

Kayleigh Garland

KayleighGarland

Thank you! I have just taken on the role of Front of House Officer in the theatre and that involves assisting in the management of all front of house operations.  I mainly oversee the bar and events and have some exciting projects lined up to work on including Frimley Lodge Live.

How does your new job differ from what you were doing before?

Andy: I’ve worked in a couple of different roles in my time here but the big change is booking shows; I only really booked the odd comedy gig before so it’s been great to spread my wings and get to know all the different promoters we work with. My big project for 2017 is booking and organising Frimley Lodge Live which returns for its 4th year in August.

Nick: I have been working in an outdoor venue for the last 1 ½ years so the main difference for me is been back inside as I was also a Lighting & Sound Technician before.

Zoe: I was very busy before I started this job role! I was a full time Duty Manager at a leisure centre, alongside being a casual Front Of House assistant at this theatre.

Kayleigh: I previously worked within the theatre team in a similar role as a casual duty manager so my day to day work isn’t vastly different.  However, I do have some more areas of responsibility now and some exciting things to get my stuck into!

 

Have you any goals for 2017, either professionally or personally?

Andy: Our 2016 pantomime, Cinderella, was our biggest selling and most profitable show yet so the challenge is to match it this year with Peter Pan. So I’m really excited for Peter Pan as it’s my favourite story and working on Frimley Lodge Live and some other exciting events which  are a secret at the moment!

Nick: I would like to progress within the theatre hopefully completing a couple of courses through out the year.

Zoe: I have just started taking salsa lessons with my partner, which is something I’ve always wanted to be good at. Look out, Strictly!

Kayleigh: I am currently studying for a degree in Leadership and Management through the Open University and 2017 will hopefully bring me within sight of the finish line!

 

Have you been to any good theatre productions lately – if so, what made it so good?

Andy: In the last few weeks all I’ve seen are pantomimes (8 and counting!) but I’m seeing the West End revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf soon with Imelda Staunton and Twelfth Night with Tamsin Greig – both will be brilliant!

Nick: I went to see Robin Hood at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton. It was the first time I have seen a Qdos Panto and they really captured the magic in the Lighting, Costumes & Scenery.

Zoe: I went to see ‘A Comedy About A Bank Robbery’ at London’s Criteria Theatre last month. It was hilarious, especially when the set onstage was literally and very cleverly turned on its side and the cast were trying to cross the stage sideways like Spiderman.

Kayleigh: I may be biased, but Camberley Theatre’s pantomime production of ‘Cinderella’ was definitely my favourite of the festive season.  I saw a few, but ours was a winner for me!

 

Thanks for your time and good luck in your new roles!

 

 

Russell Kane interview!

Brian Donaldson caught up with Russell ahead of his Camberley Theatre show on May 3rd.

Russell Kane is a changed man. For his Right Man, Wrong Age tour, you may encounter someone with a new look, fresh perspectives and a different approach to his comedy. “In the last year I’ve been married and had a baby. I’ve changed my hair, I’ve changed my look, I’ve thrown all my eyeliner in the bin. I literally went to my wardrobe one day and got all my ridiculous clothes and took them to the Sue Ryder shop for some other man having a midlife crisis then bought the four exact same suits in different colours from Topman. Then I got my hair as flat as it can go and I thought, ‘that’s it: this is me now’.”

 

russell-k-use-mid-resIn fact, Russell can pinpoint the exact moment when he needed to alter his outlook and write a new show. It started with somebody at the door . . . “I’m always looking for the moment that can make me look ridiculous in a way that is compelling. I was in the middle of spray-tanning myself upstairs in these tiny pants when the doorbell went. I went downstairs in my dressing gown and this window cleaner was touting for work. He leaned in and said, ‘I’m really sorry to disturb you: is your mum or dad in at all?’ Initially you might have thought this was a compliment, but it’s really not. He could be talking about how I’m putting myself across so I thought: ‘clothes in the bin’. And at that moment, there was Right Man, Wrong Age.”

 

In the world of stand-up, acts are continually expected to evolve and grow and turn over a significant amount of material every one or two years. For some this burden might prove too much, but for Russell Kane this is a challenge he relishes. “I’ll keep changing, and I don’t really ever want to stand still. I don’t care if it confuses people about where I’m coming from. I’m protean; I don’t want to be recognisable in five years’ time; that’s what keeps my writing going. One day I’m learning Spanish, the next I’m learning survivalism. I might do my maths GCSE next week: who knows?”

 

For now, though, Russell is focused on making Right Man, Wrong Age the best show it can possibly be. His topic this time around is how we never quite feel the life-stage that we’re in and the age that we’re at, whether we’re 80 or 18. “When you’re 18, you look in the mirror and think ‘I know what I want to do, so why am I trapped in this 18-year-old body?’ while the 80-year-old is still waltzing and dancing around in her head. That’s going to be my jumping off point and from there I’ll do lots of accessible observations as well as the odd thinky bit. But I don’t want to disappear up my own bum with this show, I just want to go on in my suit, like Michael McIntyre or Peter Kay, and just be funny and have lots of big laughs. My only job in life is to be funny.”

 

Inevitably, his new fatherhood status will have to be addressed in his show. As ever with Russell, he’ll work hard to avoid easy clichés and tired stereotypes as he tackles a subject that has been raised on many a stage by several generations of comedians. “It’s so hack to talk about having babies that I need to find another way in. It’s like walking into Pret at 5pm and there’s one boiled egg left: that’s what’s left to say about childbirth. But when you’re coming at it from a male point of view, you need to find a way in. I’ve never heard a man talk about caesarean section, so that might be the way to go.”

 

If you’ve seen Russell on stage, you’ll know there is a physicality to his act which matches the blizzard of ideas and words. So, how does he wind down after a show? “Nothing exotic, just a glass of red wine. I would like to get to bed earlier, but I need a good movie or, if I’m feeling particularly tired, something like Towie or Take Me Out; something that lobotomises me. I’m always reading good stuff, but now and again you need a burger because you can’t live on quinoa all the time. So I need something mega mainstream to bring me down.”

 

Normally in the run-up to a touring show, Russell will have almost a month of preview gigs under his belt. This time around, he had to ditch most of those plans to film his BBC series, Stupid Man, Smart Phone, for which he jetted off to various inhospitable parts of the world (the Arctic Circle, North Africa and Costa Rica among them) to see if he could survive purely with the aid of a constantly fully-charged mobile device with a permanent Wi-Fi connection. This is another example of a man who constantly wants to stretch himself, both physically and intellectually, whether it’s going on to Radio 4’s Saturday Review alongside AS Byatt to discuss the new Julian Barnes novel or writing his own next literary work. In 2012, two years after he won the Edinburgh Comedy Award, Russell published The Humorist, the tale of a tormented comedy critic who discovers the secret blueprint for humour, and he is continually working away on future literary projects.

 

Kane also has ambitions to tap into the online market with his stand-up. “I’ve not really seen other stand-ups doing it; I’ve seen some using their social media and doing bits of sketches but I haven’t seen many take the risk of doing stand-up down the barrel of a camera, posting it and seeing what happens. I did a thing recently, which I called The Kaneing, where I looked at a celebrity news story and put it on my Facebook wall. I was worried it might seem a bit embarrassing and desperate, but it got 64,000 views overnight.”

 

The popularity of Russell Kane is in little doubt, but he’s keen to make the most of his time at the top of the British stand-up tree. His sense of gratitude for the job he’s doing is palpable and he confesses that touring the country and making people laugh is something he will never tire of. “I love it. If I ever have a bad day and feel miserable, I think about the things my family have done for a living. The fact that I can walk into a hotel, lie on the bed, watch a sci-fi movie, go and do an hour’s work on stage is incredible.”

Joe Swift – A Man About The Garden

We have television gardener Joe Swift appearing at Camberley Theatre on March 23rd.

Tickets available here: http://www.camberleytheatre.biz/events/joe-swift-man-about-garden

Brian Donaldson caught up with Joe to ask him a few questions.

Joe Swift brochure web.jpg

Gardening has long been a mainstay on British television, and Joe Swift is currently one of the genre’s most popular small screen presenters. He’s fronted the likes of Gardeners’ World, Garden Invaders and the RHS Chelsea Flower Show while he’s also written books such as The Plant Room and Joe’s Urban Garden Handbook. Away from the cameras and covers, he gets involved in community and school gardens, and is an ambassador for the National Gardens Scheme and patron of the Horniman Museum .

And now he’s taking his expertise and personality on tour for A Man About The Garden, with live shows which will feature his memories of starting off in landscape gardening in the mid-80s, his rise to become an acclaimed garden designer, and the eventual move into TV. But above all, what will come across is his unconditional love of gardens, whether big or small, commercial or private, contemporary or classic.

It’s been something that’s kept me going and I really love it,” Joe tells me. “I like the people in the industry, I like the fact that you’re always learning, and I love that it’s very creative. And now I write about it, have ended up on TV, and do live tours; I find that they all feed off of each other and improve my garden design. Over the years a lot of funny stories have come up. For the show, I’ll have a lot of slides and visuals, but it’s not an evening lecture about gardening, it’s much more light entertainment. There will be a 10-15 minute Q&A but I will not be talking about dead plants.”

So if your perennial has recently passed away into herbaceous heaven and you feel the need to share with someone about your grief, best not make that person Joe Swift. “I think, ‘just dig it up and put something else in and take responsibility: you killed it!’ I want to think more positively and creatively rather than just about keeping a dying plant alive. A lot of these evenings with gardeners tend to be a little like Question Time, and I like to think that my events will still be informative but hopefully just a bit more fun. I think the audience will soon realise that we’re not here to talk about the pH of their soil.”

His convoluted route into the gardening world will be familiar to many in his audience no matter their own chosen profession. “I’m the classic art school drop-out. I felt a little bit in the lurch so did some travelling and went to spend time on a kibbutz. Friends of mine had been there and hardly spent any money, yet came back looking healthy and tanned; all you had to do was get yourself there.”

 

So, Joe spent six months in Israel, working in the fish ponds, quickly becoming hooked on life in the fresh air. “I just loved working outdoors so when I came back to London with one art A-level to my name, I started working for this landscape gardening company. It was for this guy who was half-actor half-gardener, and I worked beside this hippy gardener called Antonia who was amazing and taught me so much. I started at the bottom, mixing up cement for the landscaping guys and later I went to Australia to landscape in Melbourne and Sydney. I had experience behind me so when I came back to the UK I studied garden design properly.”

In some way, Joe Swift’s journey to expressing that deep passion and genuine love for his job on a stage could perhaps be seen as inevitable. After all, he has actors and writers in his family: his dad is Clive Swift who most famously played the brow-beaten husband in BBC sitcom Keeping Up Appearances while his mother is acclaimed novelist Margaret Drabble. And his late uncle, David Swift, was best known as the badly-behaved news anchor Henry Davenport in Channel 4’s classic 90s satire, Drop The Dead Donkey.

So, was a life of writing and performing almost inevitable? “People say that it’s in the blood but I’m not so sure,” reckons Joe. “The funny thing is that I forgot my lines at my primary school’s nativity play. Both my parents went to Cambridge and my brother and sister went to Oxford yet I was an art school drop-out. But yes, I did end up writing and performing; it’s just that I’m so passionate about gardens and gardening that I’ve really just found my thing.

Looking back on his career to date, Joe pinpoints the moment he considers his proudest achievement. “In 2012 I won a gold medal at The Chelsea Flower Show which is the pinnacle of garden design. I’ve been presenting The Chelsea Flower Show since about 2001 so a lot of people associate me with that. I’ll be talking about what it takes to get a gold medal. It’s quite phenomenal really; there’s an incredible amount to be done because your garden has to go up in three weeks, stay up for a week and then back down again in a few days; you have a quarter of a million pound budget and away you go. There’s no room for error and it’s on such a global stage. If you’ve made a crap garden or if you’re in any way embarrassed about it, you’ve nowhere to hide.”

While garden design, TV and Joe Swift eventually all found each other, he could well have been performing for a living on a very different kind of stage: the rock ’n’ roll one. “We started off as a teenage band and then kept going after we left school, gigging around a lot of clubs and pubs around north London. We were all convinced, in our own minds at least, that we would be rock stars. It was an early 80s, post-punk thing: we thought we were The Clash. We called ourselves Tumbling Dice after a Rolling Stones song because the Stones were named after a Muddy Waters song. We thought, ‘well that worked for them, so it’s bound to happen for us’. It didn’t.”

 

While Joe will still have the odd tinkle on his bass and go for a jam with mates (he has the odd session with The Pogues drummer who lives on his road), it’s clear that rock ‘n’ roll’s loss has become garden design’s gain.

Exclusive interview with Strictly’s Pasha!

Pasha Kovalev very kindly ‘phoned us this morning and answered questions you put up on social media for us to ask him!

Listen to this wonderful, exclusive interview with Camberley Theatre. If you buy your tickets for his performance here on May 13th 2017, before December 31st 2016, you will be invited to a very special Q&A session here, 30 minutes before the doors open. This applies if you have already purchased your tickets – know anyone might like some for Christmas??

 

50th Anniversary Party

We celebrated Camberley Theatre’s first 50 years with a fabulous birthday party last week – the Mayor, Cllr John Winterton and the Chief Executive of Surrey Heath Borough Council, Karen Whelan, both attended and gave inspiring and very positive speeches about the theatre’s future.

Our youth theatre, CMA invited some of their members to sing – beautifully – for us.

Farnham duo, Portland, also sang in the café area after which we all went through to the main auditorium to watch a fabulous film detailing the theatre’s history and celebrating some of our most famous performers. Put together by John Peddie also including footage by Jonny Byczok – many thanks to John and Jonny!

(Photos Drew Tommons)

Finally everyone was invited to partake in the delicious birthday cake, made by Camberley Theatre staff member Kayleigh Garland, representing the fabulous new seats in the auditorium!

Happy Birthday Camberley Theatre – here’s to the next 50 years!

(Photos Alan Meeks)

Happy 50th Camberley Theatre!

It was October 1966 when Camberley Civic Hall  first opened it’s doors –  50  years ago this month.

As you know we have been celebrating all year, with special birthday  messages recorded  for us  by  a host of wonderful artists who have performed at the theatre this year – Rick Wakeman, Ian Waite &  Natalie Lowe, Fairport Convention, Chris Ramsey and Lau are among the acts who have filmed 50th anniversary messages for us.

We found a wonderful treasure trove of vintage posters in the Surrey Heath  Museum  recently – some  have been framed and are now on display in the bar and function room at the theatre. Here is a selection – does anyone remember attending any of these shows? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you! Funnily enough Ralph McTell is also celebrating his golden anniversary this year and performing at the theatre on November 11th – we found a poster from his concert here in 1979! Happy 50th Ralph, Happy 50th Camberley Theatre!

 

 

Meet Andy Edmeads our new Venue and Operations Manager.

We’ve had a few staff changes here at Camberley Theatre over the last couple of weeks. We are delighted to introduce you to our new Venue and Operations ManagerAndy Edmeads.

andy-edmeads

Congratulations on your new job as Venue and Operations Manager. Can you tell us a bit about what you’ve done and where you’ve worked previously?

Thank you! I’ve been working in theatre for a number of years, starting as a professional actor from the age of 13. For ten years I worked on a number of theatre shows, tours, education work in schools, voice overs, television and short films and worked with lots of great people from Hugh Laurie, Rob Brydon and Benedict Cumberbatch!

After graduating from the University of Exeter I began directing and writing and leading drama workshops for kids, adults and those with special needs before moving into Venue Management and Arts Marketing – so I’ve got a lot of varied experience!

 I joined Camberley Theatre as Marketing and Business Development Manager in December 2014 and I’m delighted with the new role and continuing the good work the team around me have been doing since I came here – starting with producing another fantastic pantomime!

 You know Camberley Theatre really well through your previous role here – what new ideas will you be bringing, now you are the venue manager?

I feel really at home here and think my knowledge and experience of the Theatre and previous roles at Surrey Heath Borough Council will mean I can hit the ground running!

Over the next 6 – 12 months there’ll be more stand-up comedy at the Theatre; our audiences love it and we’ve been lucky to have welcomed some of the best names this year like Russell Howard, Al Murray and Chris Ramsey – so expect lots more belly laughs and aching jaws!

 I want us to further improve our reputation for events and welcome more community groups and societies to the Theatre to help them create memorable productions and events such as award shows, dinner dances etc.

Our Kids Parties have been a real hit since launching them in January and with our Pantomime getting such great reviews last year, I want us to do more family events and productions.

 We’ll also be back at Frimley Lodge Park on 5th and 6th August for the fourth Frimley Lodge Live festival so watch this space for an exciting and eclectic line up!

 Why do you think it’s important Camberley has a theatre?

The town (and the wider area!) are so lucky to have a venue like this here; asides from professional productions, we also hire to community groups, schools and charities for a number of occasions throughout the year. It’s our 50th birthday this year and if you look back through our history it’s always been a multipurpose venue and I want to see all our spaces used more.

 Camberley is a town bursting with activity and locally there are lots of talented people and groups and we want to be the place they come to showcase this!

 As every show is different here, we are used to working flexibly and adapting to the needs of our customers and we apply this same logic to our private hire events, parties and conferencing.

 Can you remember your first trip to the theatre?

My first ever production I remember doing was year 6 at Junior School where I was Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Before that point I was the sulking kid made to be a shepherd in the Nativity but my teacher really inspired me and I never looked back! My parents got really into theatre because of me so from the age of 12 or 13 was going to the theatre regularly for everything from pantomimes, plays, drama festivals and musicals.

 What’s your most memorable visit to the theatre ever been?

The most memorable as an audience member would be seeing Glenn Close as Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire at the National Theatre. I love the play and Tennessee Williams and Glenn Close was amazing in that role. As a performer, Peter Pan in Woking where I played Tootles was an unforgettable experience and remains my favourite pantomime  – I could watch that story over and over!

You organise the Children’s Parties at Camberley Theatre – what’s been your favourite party so far?

We did a Charlie and the Chocolate themed party which was great fun. 35 five year olds chanting Oompah Loompah rhymes stays with you for quite a while!

You were lucky enough to go to the Edinburgh Festival in August, have you got any tips for us?

I saw 32 shows in 5 days so my top tip is RELAX!!! In all seriousness, there’s so much to see and do at the Fringe that however long you go for it is never enough time. Plan ahead in advance and see as much as you can. It’s a great place to see new work and I love the Pleasance (great for comedy) and Assembly Gardens venues the best. See you there in 2017!

Thanks Andy – good luck with all your plans, really looking forward to seeing them in action.

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 A star is born. Andy aged 10 as Puck!