Coffee Break: LukeAdamson  

Well here we are, sitting in the work-in-progress soon to open as the relaunched Bridge House Theatre. How did you get involved?I live nearby and heard that the previous team at the Bridge House had moved on and that the space was empty. So I leapt in! The publicans downstairs are arts enthusiasts and very pleased to have us here.  They charge us nothing.  We are now, by the way, an upstairs theatre. The original little auditorium downstairs is being redeveloped for dining space. When we’re allowed to run at full capacity we are licensed for 65 seats.

So what are you going to do? A very wide variety of things. I think we’ll open  in the autumn with a revue, party-like production with lots of examples to show people what to expect. And I’m writing a small scale Dick Whittington pantomime for Christmas to entice families in. Then there are talented people wanting to bring shows in – I’m planning to run something similar to the Sunday/Monday club we had at The Hope when I was associate director there. That’s an opportunity for people to try out their material really. And I hope we might do some open air shows in Crystal Palace Park next summer – it’s next to us, after all. I think there’ll be some imported early years shows too. An old college friend, Joseph Lindoe is working with me as assocate director.

I imagine you’re keen to collaborate locally too? Yes, definitely. I’ve worked a lot in drama schools and shall be contacting all the south London ones and beyond. They might bring some of their shows to us for a couple of performances. There’s also a club for children coming for part of the October half term. And I seem to hear from local actors, designers and other creatives almost every day. There’s an awful lot of talent in this area.

How are you financing it? Well of course I’m not taking a salary and most of the shows which come in will be on a box office split basis while others, we hope, will sell tickets. Our own hired actors will be paid Equity fringe rates. We need about £5,000 to do the place up and we’ve raised £3,000 including a couple of generous donations. We’ve bought a second hand lighting/sound rig and some seating. We’re getting there.

You are clearly from Yorkshire. How did it all start? Yes, Selby. My parents were not “theatrical” but they do like going to the theatre. My dad grew up as one of 13 children in a two bedroom house but later played rugby for England and then became a teacher and foster carer. I was taken to pantomime at Theatre Royal York and thought it looked great fun. The following year, aged 9, I was in Beauty and the Beast at TRY and was completely focused from then on with my parents fully in support.

And then …? Everything was geared towards my becoming an actor. I did youth theatre which was excellently run at TRY. I got good GCSEs but didn’t want to do A levels so I did a BTec in Media Production at college. It gave me excellent training in TV and film work and I actually got a part in the Heartbeat Christmas special while I was doing that course – I’d had an agent since youth theatre. After that it was south to London and a three year degree course at ALRA in their wonderful historic building in Wandsworth. I learned such a lot there especially about voice and movement, and ten years later I’m still in contact with every student in my year. To be taught, say, about TV soap or sit-com by a current actor in a show was really great. I’ve also taught at ALRA and am now on the board of trustees. We have a new curriculum, conducted major race audit and have done huge amounts of work to ensure that no student feels threatened – ever.

Do you still have to keep up other work given that the Bridge House is not likely to pay you anything? Oh yes. I’m currently appearing in Peter Pan at the Roman Arena in St Albans, part of the Maltings summer festival. My agent still gets me auditions and I teach as well as writing my own plays. At present I’m developing a free-to-access course about how to produce small scale theatre too.   I also still do some bar and café work – I met my partner in a pub but I’m not seeing much of her and our dog at present because I’m to-ing and fro-ing to St Albans!