Meet the Theatre: The Front Room
North Somerset is home to many wonderful and unique businesses and organisations. This month, we’re delighted to introduce Emma Keaveney-Roys and Adam Fuller from The Front Room Theatre
How did Front Room start and how has it developed?
Front Room began as Adam and I [Emma Keaveney-Roys] moved to Weston and quickly connected with the local artists collective ‘From The Mud’ who had lots of ideas for theatre shows and performance work, but had nowhere to affordably present their work in the long term.
As theatre makers with decades of professional experience, we felt a desire to set up an informal space in Weston where local artists could present work and also somewhere that we could host small scale touring shows and make theatre ourselves, offering opportunities for local artists and young people. So we fired off some emails to the Council, who connected us with Super Culture. They supported us in getting use of the old Pizza Express unit on Dolphin Square and helped us with applying for funding and getting the space set up.
We started making our opening show ‘Me, Monster?’ in 2022 before we had the keys to the unit and eventually got access to the venue 6 days before the show opened. The community rallied around to help us get the space ready and since then it’s gone from strength to strength. We have had national and international touring companies and comedians through our doors, as well as nurturing local talent, offering performance development workshops and classes and establishing an inviting and comfortable place for the community to gather and watch a diverse range of theatre and performance.
Why did you decide to base yourself in North Somerset?
Adam and I live in Weston and wanted to work in the place that we live. The local artists we work with also felt strongly about creating a cultural landscape here in their hometown, rather than feeling as though they have to move to Bristol or London to earn money from what they have trained so hard for. Weston is a really exciting place to be right now, there is so much creativity emerging all over the town and this just keeps growing all the time. PLUS, the woods, the parks, the beaches, the marine lake, the sea, the food, I mean what more could you ask for?
How do you attract talented staff?
Front Room quickly became a gathering point for artists and those interested in theatre and creativity. This has led to us getting to know so many amazingly talented and driven people who have been volunteering along with Adam and I from the beginning.
So when we were lucky enough to be awarded Arts Council funding in October, we could finally pay ourselves and hire Jess from the local artists collective and Luke who has a background in performance and stage management. Both of them had already been doing so much to support us and to now be able to offer them paid work was such a thrill.
We have a brilliant gang of local volunteers, without whom Front Room would not be possible. Our list of helpers is continually growing and we are always looking for more support and encouragement. We have also been hosting local teenagers for their work experience placements with a view to introducing opportunities that exist in their home town.
What have been your biggest challenges?
Our biggest challenge has been juggling our paid jobs along with the work we undertook to get Front Room off the ground. We have been stressed and tired but our love for theatre, creativity and community along with our pride in what we do and being a part of this amazing community has made it all worthwhile. Finding our way in terms of getting word out there and continuing to explore funding opportunities has also been a steep learning curve and one that we are slowly traversing.
What are your plans for the future?
We are going to carry on programming great theatre, music, comedy and community workshops as well as making more of our own shows in conjunction with supremely talented local artists and theatre makers.
We hope to make a new family show this year alongside a local community group ,as well as another Christmas show at the end of the year. We hope to find a more permanent home for Front Room so that we can further develop what we offer to include more community engagement and potentially our own practical theatre making courses.
What have been your proudest moments?
There are too many! I am constantly overwhelmed by what the space provides for everyone; the magic of a group of people getting together and watching great theatre, seeing work that has been created at Front Room by local artists go off on tour, the value of workshops and classes for creative development, watching internationally acclaimed companies performing in the space and opening our own shows for adults and families alike. This isn’t just our pride through, it is a collective pride as Front Room belongs to everyone and will always be accessible and welcoming to all.
To find out more about Front Room and the exciting adult and family theatre productions they bring to the Weston community, please visit: www.frontroomwsm.com