Celebrating 30 years of Prime Theatre with Mark Powell

Prime Theatre (formely Sixth Sense Theatre Company) this year celebrates its 30th anniversary, Prime who are based at the Wyvern Theatre and make theatre for and by young people.   This August they will be presenting Punk Rock a play by renowned playwright Simon Stephens about a group of teenagers taking their A Level exams. Mark Powell, Artistic Director of Prime Theatre will be directing the play and we sat down with him to find out more about the show, plans for the 30th anniversary and his fondest memories of working for Prime Theatre.

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Who are Prime Theatre and what work do you make?

Prime Theatre is Swindon’s only professional theatre company. We make productions for children and young people that tour the country playing to schools and family audiences. We also make shows with members of Prime Youth Theatre who are actors, writers and technicians.

What have you got planned for Prime’s 30th anniversary?

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We started with 2046, a new play with young actors looking 30 years into the future. This was performed in a transformed Swindon Borough Council Chamber. We recently had a 10 part radio adventure on BBC Wiltshire, written specially for us by Terry Deary, creator of Horrible Histories. The series was called The Wyvern of Wiltshire and followed a mythical beast being chased by two teenagers. Later in the anniversary year we will make Penguins with Birmingham Rep Theatre and also another Swindon-located show in the new year. We have also just started to work with Year 6s to make a show about their experience of SATs.

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Photo Credit: Prime Theatre

You’re next show is at the Wyvern Theatre in August and it’s called Punk Rock. What can audiences expect from Punk Rock?

A pretty intense trip to the torment of being a teenager and they’ll be close to the action too. For the first time, audiences will have the chance to sit on the Wyvern stage, sitting all round the sixth form common room that we are making. There are the usual stereotypes that you’d expect, but you’ll soon see something disturbing is going on beneath the surface. It’s funny and fierce and sometimes frightening…and will also feature a young live band with their own brand of rock. There is also a chance to see integrated live BSL where the interpreter is part of the action, again another first for us.

Fantastic, we can’t wait to see the show! How has Prime Theatre evolved since its inception?

We still perform in schools, but more of our productions are seen in theatres too. Radio plays have been new for us in the past two years. We are supported by both the Arts Council and Swindon Borough Council, so our work is with local communities and beyond. Prime Youth Theatre is real importance: we want every child to see themselves in our professional productions and then we want most of them to make work and find a voice with us too: onstage or off.

What is your favourite memory of working for Prime?

I’ve worked here twice…running the youth and schools projects from 2000-2004 and then I returned as Artistic Director in 2014. My best memories are moments of excitement when a child suddenly realises they are creative or  valuable and then, recently, when ex-youth theatre members come back as adults and you can celebrate the achievements they’ve had in life since you last saw them. That’s really special. It reminds us all why we think young people are so clever and important.

How can be people get involved with Prime Theatre?

Come see shows, support our community projects. We are a charity so donations and sponsorships are always welcome. We raise funds to keep memberships and tickets low and, recently, to include more Deaf children in our activities. If anyone wants to join Prime Youth Theatre as actors, writers or technicians they should go to www.primetheatre.co.uk for a free taster.

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Punk Rock will be at the Wyvern Theatre from Tue 1 to Thu 3 August. The performances on the 2nd and 3rd will feature a BSL interpreter that will integrate alongside the actors rather than standing at the side to give a complete theatre experience for everyone.

For more information and to buy tickets please visit: http://bit.ly/PunkRockWT

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