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MAST: Interview with Southampton's newest theatre!

Updated: Apr 10, 2021

We caught up with Michael (Chief Executive), Sara (Executive Director), Victoria (Artistic Director) and Aidan (Creative Producer) from Southampton's newest theatre, MAST Mayflower Studios. They tell us a bit about themselves and the venue's upcoming programming and artist development events.

We’re so excited for MAST to open. How confident are you that you will be able to put work in front of audiences in 2021?

We anticipate opening the building for engage and community work after Easter with a programme of presented work from May and are hopeful that we will have a full programme from September.

We are so excited too and can’t wait to get going with everything.

Photo credit: Chris Stephens

We’d love to know a little more about you. Could you each tell us a few reasons why you love theatre, the sort of work you like to see/make and one surprising fact about yourselves!

Michael – I was inspired in my teenage years by a brilliant drama teacher who introduced me to the wonders of live theatre. I have a commitment to offering the same opportunity to young people and that is what drives me and keeps me motivated. I enjoy work that entertains and brings joy to its audience, when I was younger I liked to be challenged and now it is to be entertained.

Sara – I took part in a Solent Peoples Theatre mass community production when I was young and Physical theatre is my first love. I was a story teller for many years and that’s what it all always comes back to for me the simplicity of a story shared and the recognition of the experiences that unite us.

I believe in the power of the arts to change lives in all different ways and feel privileged to have the opportunity to witness this in my work everyday.

Victoria – I love theatre that feels immediate and real – shows where you’re close up and can really feel the relationship between the performers and the audience. I was a youth theatre director for many years and I love creating with young people – they’re not afraid to take creative risks and that’s really powerful. I’m not sure there’s any facts that are that surprising about me…a few years ago I took a break from theatre to run a café and bake cakes – it was fun but after six months I realised I missed theatre too much!

Aidan – I’m passionate about ensuring everyone has access to the arts and theatre. Theatre is powerful because it can entertain, inform, and inspire. I particularly enjoy turning ideas into reality and cannot wait to work with the city’s artists to explore our stories and tell them on our stages.

Could you tell us a little bit about your longer-term plans for MAST?

The vision is to be nationally recognised in providing inspiring experiences and MAST has 3 key mission statements, they are to preserve and maintain MAST for the community and provide a diverse programme of quality arts experiences, to be valuable to the community and local cultural offer as a creative hub and centre of excellence for culture in Southampton and to be community led with engagement and consultation at its heart.

We aim to programme in a creative and imaginative way encouraging the best in touring productions of all entertainment forms to appear at MAST. We will broaden the programme to ensure young people are encouraged to attend the venue and we aim to work in collaboration with other arts organisations within Southampton & Hampshire to promote the arts sector. We also hope to widen the provision of dance and opera within the programme, working with companies of the appropriate size for the MAST studios.

We have also placed diversity and inclusion as a key principle in all our decision making processes.

Are there any programmes or opportunities at MAST that local artists should be looking out for?

Victoria – We’re going to hold a series of digital ‘Town Hall’ events for people to come and find out what MAST is all about and how they can get involved. Our first one will be focussed on Artists (although everyone is welcome!) and will be held 11am and 7pm on 28th April. It’ll be a chance to meet the team, hear what we’ve got planned, ask questions and find out about artist development opportunities.

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