Theatre in non-theatre space: was creating the Bike Shed Theatre a waste of time?

David Lockwood, 17 July 2012

Participants: Bethany, Kev, Seth, Emily, Danielle, Shona, Franki, Nat McGrath, Mike, Paul, Kev, Sheila


In February 2010, a theatre company put on a play in a non-theatre space. It proved successful so they stayed for their next two productions, before embarking on a major refurbishment and expansion.

In July 2012, the theatre company has fallen away as the reality of managing and running a theatre building has taken over. Inspiring conversations about creating theatre in non-theatre spaces have led to concerns that the Bike Shed Theatre has become a pointless part of the theatre landscape.

The solution

It was concluded that the Bike Shed Theatre is an important part of the theatrical landscape of the city, and should work. Though it may need support.

Some points

The legacy and its potential stops us from closing it.

Working for little is unsustainable.

Support from other venues in Exeter would help.

“Isn't this just a bar?” - the cash comes from the bar - the bar supports the theatre - the theatre supports the bar (without the theatre, the bar wouldn't make enough money)

Who is your audience? Would they follow you?

Are young people interested in theatres?

Maybe the theatre needs to be there but you (David) don't.

Are the directors just tired?

Fundraising is always difficult.

It isn't a theatre space.

Our climate (rain) makes having a building vital.

Building acts as a flag for the kind of work we are making.

Striving to be identified by what the organisation does not by the venues they occupy.

BST is at the beginning of a journey.

Building provides the space to create a community because when you leave you have somewhere to go.

An opportunity to pool resources - create an infrastructure.

Musical events/performances in the bar.

Final (worrying) thought

“I perceive the Bike Shed not as a building but what's in David and Fin's head” Paul Bull


Exeter, Devon, fringe, fringe theatre, devon, theatre buildings, non-theatre spaces, small-scale work, exeter, sustainability