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Last Updated: Monday, 27 March 2006, 17:04 GMT 18:04 UK
Theatre company at risk over loss
The cast of Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory's Love's Labours Lost - photo: Alan Moore
The company is currently onstage in Love's Labours Lost
A critically-acclaimed theatre company could be forced to close after its latest production lost 30,000.

Bristol-based Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory (SATF) has received rave reviews for many of its shows.

But its latest offering, the bloody tragedy Titus Andronicus, played to very small audiences, leaving the company on the verge of bankruptcy.

SATF is now appealing to arts fans across the city to help secure its future by offering 25 donations.

The group's artistic director Andrew Hilton said he hoped there was enough money in the coffers to ensure they could complete the current run of Love's Labours Lost, due to end on 29 April, but it depended on audience figures.

"Theatre is such a fickle business, but is hard to know what has happened," he told BBC News Interactive.

"I suppose we've become something of a local institution, and so rather than people coming to see both plays in a season as they did when we were a 'novelty', they are picking one or the other."

He added: "What we hope to make people understand is that we are not a tap they can turn on and off - either they want us here or they don't, and if they want us here, then they have to attend.

"We don't get public funding, so there is no-one else around to pick up the bill - there is no margin for error."

Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory was set up seven years ago, and presents two plays in Bristol each spring before taking up a five-week residency at London's Barbican Centre.

It is based at the Tobacco Factory, an arts centre and theatre space in Bedminster.

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