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Elevate Festival – Bath Spa University

Bath Spa alumni elevate theatre to new heights

Tuesday, 7 March, 2023

A two-week theatre festival in Bath is offering audiences a chance to experience the best of our Bath Spa community’s talent.

Theatre Royal Bath’s Elevate Festival kicked off on Friday 3 March and continues until Sunday 19 March, with a packed programme of events presented by our local creative community. Featuring 140 participants from theatre companies across the region, Elevate Festival offers a programme of diverse events proudly presented by a range of locally-based performers, including several Bath Spa alumni and residents from Bath Spa’s EMERGE studios.

Festival Producer and Bath Spa alum Dan Lewis-Jones (MA Creative Producing) explained that the festival started with the idea of hosting a weekend of events for local theatre makers. “I put a call out and 27 companies got in touch! With that, the Elevate Festival was born,” he said.

But where would it take place? 

Cue: an unused function room in the heart of Theatre Royal Bath. The festival is being staged in a purpose-built, 40-seat pop-up venue created inside the theatre’s historic “1805 Rooms”. Dan spent two months working with a team to build a hidden theatre right in the middle of Theatre Royal Bath's three other stages. “Then we opened with a wonderful drag show - we danced, laughed and sang! We have a range of different performances, including dance shows, family shows, new writing, comedy and more,” Dan said. 

Nicky Cooper (MA Performing Shakespeare) is one of several Bath Spa alumni performing in the festival. He wrote the play Cycles with fellow Bath Spa graduate India Rodgers, and the show is produced by Nicky’s theatre company The Scullions.

“This festival is such a special thing to be happening, bringing together artists from so many different backgrounds and giving them a platform, whatever point in their career they might be,” Nicky said. “It's so rare to see and truly something deserving of attention so I encourage people to come and enjoy the amazing performances on offer!”

Charlie Day (MA Performing Shakespeare), another Bath Spa alum, will perform his one-person play Rock Bottom, based on the Shakespeare character. Charlie took the show to Edinburgh Fringe in 2022, and is looking forward to performing it later this year in New York.

"There are lots of rude jokes, a poorly rehearsed dance, an original ukulele song written by someone who can’t play any instruments, and much more," Charlie said. "However, at its core Rock Bottom is about a lonely person, who just wants you to like him."

Talking about what he enjoyed most about being part of the festival, Nicky explained:

“For me, it's about being part of such a wide variety of performance art. It feels so incredibly inclusive and diverse so it's an honour to share the stage with the richness of talent that Bath has to offer, and in such a prestigious venue.”

Charlie agreed that performing at such a renowned venue was a highlight, but he also spoke about the importance of supporting emerging artists:

"The best part is giving emerging artists a chance to put work on in a safe and supportive environment. So far I've watched brand new work as well as work that has been touring already, and it’s great to see these shows lined up alongside each other."

Dan added:

“One of the things I am most proud of is that the artists receive 100% of the box office, so when you buy a ticket you’re directly supporting new work, new artists and new voices. Plus, you get to experience behind the scenes of Theatre Royal Bath and see a brand new space that won't exist in two weeks' time!” 

Tickets for Elevate Festival at the Theatre Royal Bath can be purchased from the Box Office on 01225 448844 and online.

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