All Change Upstairs

It's all change at Leicester's only pub theatre, Upstairs At The Western, based above the Western pub in Westcotes.

The original team from the Of The Fence Theatre Company have run the project for four years bringing unique, small scale professional  theatre, performances and workshops to the West End fringe venue.

Upstairs seatingVerity Bartesch, Sally Jack and Gary Phillpott, are stepping down to develop new theatre projects leaving the path clear for a fresh group of enthusiasts to take the reins. They said in September: 'after much thought and soul-searching, we have decided it is now time to hand over the reins of running Leicester's pub theatre to somebody new.

'We are therefore looking for successors to continue to run and improve the theatre as we believe it is vital Upstairs at the Western remains a jewel in the community's crown long after we are forgotten'.

Following the call for fresh management, a new local group stepped in to lead the theatre. Directors of the Upstairs at the Western CIC, David Bell, Jess Richards and Jess Witthaus will launch a new programme of spoken word, music and comedy from 1st January.

Speaking to the theatre world's trade paper, The Stage, Mr. Bell, who is the chairman of children's arts company The Spark, said the group's initial priorities for the space would be to maintain the theatre's ethos of staging 'intimate' work, before expanding the programme over the next couple of years.

Mr. Bell added he wanted to serve both the theatre's local audience as well as local artists, by developing emerging companies in Leicester and offering theatremakers somewhere to premiere their work and staging scratch nights.

'Whenever I've come out of a play at Upstairs at the Western I have been really moved, and to me that's what great art is. It should create some kind of emotional response, and Upstairs at the Western does that in bucket loads. That's the thing we love about it and we're going to keep that going'.

The 50-seat theatre currently stages spring and autumn productions with a winter season being added in 2017/18.