Wednesday, 7 November 2012


ACTOR Tim Bell took on the role of co-artistic director, alongside Harry Long, at the Marine Theatre in Lyme Regis just over a year ago. Originally from Norfolk and living in London, Tim visited Lyme Regis for several summers with his own theatre group, Shanty Theatre, before moving to Uplyme and taking on the role at the Marine, which he said was “impossible to resist”.

WHERE did you study acting?
I was originally trained as an actor so went to Webber Douglas, a drama school in London. Not all of the stereotypes you hear about drama schools are true. But most are!

WHY did you decide to get into acting?
I was a member of a Youth Theatre when I was growing up in Norfolk. My first role was as a tree in 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe'. I'll leave you to make up your own jokes about me giving a wooden performance. After that, I've never looked back!

HOW did you become involved with Shanty Theatre?
I set up Shanty in 2007 with Harry Long, my co-director down here at the Marine Theatre. We met whilst performing in a touring production of 'Treasure Island'; Harry was Long John Silver and I was playing assorted pirates. We toured to Lyme and instantly fell in love with it. We sat on the beach the next day and came up with the idea for Shanty.

SHANTY’S 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner' was a great success in Lyme this summer. What did you enjoy about directing the show?
I always feel very lucky to do a job I love. One of the reasons I enjoy directing so much is the rehearsals. It's a pleasure to work with so many creative people coming up with wonderful ideas. It's a lot of fun.

WHAT did you do before moving to Lyme?
Whilst Shanty has always been based in the South West (we had an office in Totnes before we moved to Lyme), I've spent a lot of my time living in London. Before I moved to Lyme I was living in Peckham. Needless to say when I moved here I noticed quite a difference!

WHY did you decide to move to Lyme and take on the Marine Theatre?
Even though the theatre has many, many challenges it has to overcome, it's such a charming building in a wonderful town it was impossible to resist. 

YOU’VE now been at the theatre for over a year. What is your vision for the future of the Marine?
We've made a lot of progress since we started at the Marine last October. Audiences are up 48 per cent and the average ticket price is under £10. But we've got a long way to go. Our long term vision is a financially self sufficient organisation in a welcoming, open building that everyone in Lyme feels at home in. We want everyone to feel like there is something for them to see at the theatre. Eventually we'd love to have the theatre open all day every day; a place where you can pop in for a coffee and see what's going on. Of course, the building has its problems too. Anyone who has been in when it's raining will have noticed the paddling pools in the corner. I'm afraid to say these aren't props for the next show; they're collecting the drips from a rather expensive hole in the roof. We're working to raise the funds to fix that now.

COMEDIAN Jo Brand has just appeared at the theatre. Were you pleased with the show's success?
Really pleased! The show sold out in record time, and I think we could have sold out many times over. She said afterwards it was a pleasure to appear in such a warm, welcoming town on the first night of her tour. And she walked on stage holding her copy of the View From! 

DO you have any other big names planned for appearances?
We've got Jeremy Hardy coming up on December 15th. I'm really excited about his visit; I always enjoy listening to him on the News Quiz on Radio 4. One of the perks of the job is to you get to book acts who you've always really liked. Jeremy Hardy is one of those. 

ARE there any other events coming up at the theatre you’re really looking forward to?
The Bristol Reggae Orchestra are going to be incredible on December 22nd. I'm not sure how they're going to fit; there are so many of them it's going to be difficult to get them all on the stage! It's going to be a great Christmas party.

WHAT is your favourite play you have watched?
I saw 'Jerusalem' by Jez Butterworth in the West End a couple of years ago and it was brilliant. I'll never forget it. Mark Rylance gave the best performance I've ever seen. 

WHAT are your other personal interests?
I'm a huge cricket fan. There comes a point in everyone's life when they have to come to terms with the fact they will never play cricket for England. I'm yet to reach that point.

WHAT do you like about living in Lyme Regis?
There is something very special about living by the sea. I'll never tire of that view!

WHAT would you add to or change about the town if you could?
Maybe an international cricket stadium?

WHAT is the last book you read, CD you listened to and film you watched?
I've just finished “Bring up the Bodies” by Hilary Mantel. It was excellent. I've borrowed a Loudon Wainwright CD from my dad that I'm rather fond of at the moment (it's a little embarrassing when you start to like the same music as your dad). And film? I'm off to see the new Bond film tonight. I'm very excited!

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