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Page last updated at 13:53 GMT, Thursday, 25 March 2010
Get on your bike to see a show at Exeter's new theatre
By Jemima Laing
BBC Devon

Still from a Bike Shed Theatre production
The theatre opened its doors in January 2010

When the theatre you are running was last used as a Chinese restaurant, then turning a kitchen into a dressing room is an occupational hazard.

And that's just one of the challenges faced by David Lockwood and Fin Irwin when they decided to set up a small theatre in Exeter two years ago.

The first job was to find a venue.

After considering various sites Mike Saunders of the city's Bike Shed agreed to let them use a building he owned and the Bike Shed Theatre was born.

Outside Bike Shed Theatre Exeter
David says the venue has a 'cosy retro' feel

And they only had three weeks to transform the site into a working theatre.

"It was really a case of rolling up our sleeves and getting on with it," laughed David.

"It requires a lot of hard work obviously, we do everything from getting the space ready to running the bar - we do it all."

David, 27, trained as an actor and decided once he finished his education that he wanted to direct too.

So he returned to Exeter from London to pursue his ambition.

The Bike Shed Theatre was initially opened as a temporary space for Particular Theatre Company's production The Distance, a new play by Craig Norman.

It has since been given a longer lease of life and will remain open on a trial basis until the end of June 2010 - but David is already looking as far ahead as Christmas.

David Lockwood
David Lockwood trained to be an actor in Exeter

The theatre's resident company, Particular, is set to produce another two new plays from South West writers.

There will also be productions of Pinter's A Slight Ache - one of his early one-act plays, Strindberg's Miss Julie and Philip Pullman's Clockwork, as well as live music and comedy.

"Hopefully we'll have something on every night," said David.

A lot of time is spent on researching new sources of, and applying for, funding.

"That could be a full-time job in itself," said David.

"And we couldn't do it without the support of our hugely committed team."

So what can the audience expect from a night at the Bike Shed?

"It's got a really Bohemian atmosphere, it's a cosy retro bar and you get really close to the actors."

So, as Exeter Northcott faces an uncertain future, isn't it a risky strategy to open another theatre in the city?

"There is a philosophy that you can't make money from theatre," he said.

"We are hoping to change that."

The forthcoming production by the company is entitled Still and is by Bristol playwright Steve Lambert.

Next production:
13 April - 1 May 2010
Bike Shed Theatre
St Olaves Close
Mary Archers Street
EX4 3AT For more information visit the Bike Shed Theatre's website.

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