Alec’s anything but idle

PUBLISHED: 09:27 06 July 2010 | UPDATED: 09:46 06 July 2010

THE BEER-based artistic director of Idle Theme Theatre Company is anything but idle as he enters a hectic summer season.

Alec Fellows-Bennett, of Clapps Lane, formed the company “with £100 out of my own bank account” last year to create theatre for often unusual theatrical spaces, such as gardens and historic buildings. There is a core of eight creative minds that come together on a project-by-project basis.

Alec, 27, said: “We’re not running it for money or profit, the main reason is to put plays on in venues that aren’t theatres. We don’t want to be a rep company that churns out the same people year after year, but it’s essential to have a core base.”

This year’s summer production is Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband, which opened for a three-night run at Sidholme hotel, Sidmouth, on Thursday, July 8. It will move to Otterton Mill on Saturday, July 24. The company is also reviving its 2009 sell-out production of another Wilde classic, The Importance of Being Earnest, at Leigh House, Winsham, on Saturday, July 17 and at Poltimore House, Exeter, on Friday, July 23.

“We meet up a week before and rehearse all day every day for a week,” said Alec.

Last year’s production, staged in the gardens of Littlecourt Cottages, Sidmouth, was slightly hampered by the weather. “It poured it down on the Saturday night and we had to cancel the show, but we told everyone who had tickets for that night to come along on the Sunday, and they did - 200 people turned up, so everyone who booked to see the show got to see it.”

For the Sidholme dates, the company has been offered the music room as well as the gardens, so that if the weather should turn nasty, it can transfer indoors. “The show will go on regardless,” said Alec.

Alec, who also works for an estate agency in Axminster and with local theatre groups directing, set building and advising, lives with Idle Theme member Evelyn O’Mally. He started at Birmingham Rep School of Drama and from then on had a steady stream of work, including radio plays and touring productions. “I spent a lot of time in Travelodges,” he quipped.

He was fond of the East Devon area, having holidayed at Oakdown Caravan Park, Branscombe, as a youngster. Then in 2006, his parents bought a holiday cottage in Sidmouth that needed doing up, so he project managed that as a break from his acting work. Evelyn got tired of commuting from the south east, so they found the flat in Beer. “We fell in love with the place and have no plans to move anywhere.”

With his roots in the area firmly established, Alec is keen to offer budding East Devon actors an opportunity to return here after they’ve been to drama college, to perform in Idle Theme productions. “We want to create a platform for local people. I work with local companies and there are some really talented people out there. It would be nice for all those people going off to drama school to have somewhere to come back to.”

For more information visit www.idletheme.co.uk. For Sidholme show tickets call 01395 577433.


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