Mousetrap Theatre Projects

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Our Patrons

Inspired Beginnings

Roger Allam

'When I was a teenager and Laurence Olivier was running the National Theatre at the Old Vic, a friend of my sister's introduced me to the mysteries of how you get a theatre ticket and encouraged me to go and see Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead as I was studying Hamlet at school. It was magical. The first time I had been to the theatre on my own. Most importantly the ticket only cost 15 pence to sit on a padded bench in the gallery ( this was 1970 or 71) the same price as my tube fare and the same price as the theatre programme, so today the equivalent price would be about £3.50. That was it for me. Later that year I saw Laurence Olivier play Shylock for 15 pence, also magical.'

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Hugh Bonneville

'As a child I was lucky enough to be taken to the theatre a lot by my parents.  Seeing Bernard Miles playing Long John Silver at the Mermaid frightened the living daylights out of me.  I remember thinking, what a fantastic thing to be able to do.  I knew it wasn’t real but my imagination had made it so.  From then on, I was intoxicated by the power and the magic of theatre.'

Matthew Bourne OBE

'It's so important that young people's first theatre experience is a good and inspiring one. I remember being taken, as an 11 year old schoolboy, in London's East End, to see a deadly dull and theatrically unexciting production of Shakespeare's Coriolanus. It almost put me off for life! Luckily I had parents who were big theatre lovers and a couple of years later they took me to see Angela Lansbury in the musical Gypsy at The Piccadilly Theatre which completely made me fall in love with the idea of theatre and "putting on a show". Although the show was essentially about "showbiz" itself it was also highly dramatic and full of laughter, tears, theatrical magic and star power. All things that i still love now. Not only did I want to come back and see it again the next day, I also wanted to be in it! My life changed that day. Soon after I formed my own amateur dance theatre company and, guess what? That's what I'm still doing today!'

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Kenneth Branagh

'Going to the theatre as a child unlocked my imagination. It made me dream, and made me think, and made me want to join in. When it works, it’s the best fun you can have without tickling, and even when it doesn't, it still makes you want to come back for more and different and better. Smoke and mirrors, and ice cream and laughter, and gasps and giggles, and singing and dancing and delirium to bewitch and beguile. For me as a child, and as a grown up the theatre is magic with bells on.'

 

 

Janie Dee

'My first theatre experience was The Taming of the Shrew.  A friend of ours who was an actor invited us. He played Petruchio and was so funny and charismatic.  I laughed so much and felt the warmth of being a child in an audience where the actors on stage seemed to reach out and know how to make me feel good.'

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Noma Dumezweni

'The thing that got me excited about drama was being in youth theatre at the Wolsey in Ipswich, run by artistic director Dick Tuckey.  At this time I worked on Saturdays, beginning at 5.00am, as the ‘toast girl’ at a local hotel making toast for the guests.  What got me through Saturdays was knowing that on Sundays I would be part of Wolsey’s Youth Theatre, playing games, doing improv and taking part in the yearly youth production – being part of a company.  The Wolsey also gave me a chance to see loads of theatre productions, meet actors and I even served as an usher.'

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Bonnie Greer OBE

'I wrote all of the school plays when I was a little girl because I liked the play form on paper and then seeing them become embodied.  But it was the American dramaturge/director/producer and now principal of Rose Bruford College, Michael Earley, who was the biggest influence on me in my deepest self. In the '70's, when I was living in  my hometown of Chicago and  going to university, Michael edited a great theatre magazine which featured photos of theatre productions - Downtown Theatre (fringe and avant-garde) and text which greatly influenced me (still does) and I moved to New York in pursuit of the theatre that Michael celebrated. I’m going back to that theatre now, the one he opened up to me.'

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Susan Hampshire OBE

'I think one of the many reasons I fell in love with the theatre at a very early age was that I found school work very difficult (being, but not knowing, I was dyslexic).  Luckily I discovered an activity which I enjoyed and in which sometimes I shone, as at school we performed plays each term, sometimes in a London theatre. Making an audience laugh was an intoxicating experience, a sensation I relished from then on.'

 

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Celia Imrie

'My inspired beginnings were, as I am sure many were, born sitting aghast in the audience of my first pantomime. The glamour, the glitter, the frights and the fantasies, captivated me utterly. And I have loved them ever since. From my very first job cast as a rat (and curiously a sausage) and chorus girl in Dick Whittington, to the heady delights of watching Stanley Baxter and Paul O'Grady as dames. I guess those first enchantments never leave you, and their magic certainly inspires you onwards.'

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Adrian Lester

'I was 14 when I joined the Birmingham Youth Theatre.

I loved the fact that for a few short hours, we could take an audience anywhere; The Moon, a dungeon or the top of a mountain, anywhere a good story could take place. The possibilities were endless and I was hooked. Every play I saw taught me something about people I would never meet.

I suppose it was the first time, I saw the skill in daydreaming, the craft in making up stories and pretending. I loved it.'

Jamie Lloyd

'I love everything that Mousetrap stands for and am thrilled to have been involved with their great work. When I directed James McAvoy in Macbeth, it was exciting to see so many mousetrap kids at Trafalgar Transformed - many of whom were experiencing Shakespeare for the very first time. Their comments and questions were genuinely insightful, inspiring and intriguing.

I had the honour of opening TheatreCraft, too. It is a brilliant event that motivates young people interested in those all-important behind-the-scenes roles. The energy in the Royal Opera House that day was infectious. I (also) collected an award at Mousetrap's own Theatre Awards, (The Mousetraps) voted entirely by young people. The performances which took place at the ceremony by the young people were amazing. It was an uplifting evening. It's vital that we nurture the next generation of theatre makers and Mousetrap plays such a significant role in this. I'm totally proud to be a Patron.'

Jonathan Pryce CBE

'Growing up in a small village in North Wales in the 50s meant that I had very little access to live theatre.  I had never intended to be an actor.  At school all I was interested in was art and when I left at 16 I went to art school for two years before going on to train to teach art. It was during this time that I also studied drama, ­ mainly because I had been told it was the easiest course requiring the least amount of work!  But then I met an inspirational teacher who awakened my interest in theatre and taught me the power theatre had, both politically and emotionally.

You look back and think about what it was, what event happened in your life that made everything that follows possible.  It could be a TV show, a painting, a teacher or a visit to the theatre and hopefully Mousetrap Theatre Projects will provide that trigger for someone.'

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Eddie Redmayne OBE

'I was taken by my Mum aged about 10 to see A Midsummer Night's Dream at the National Theatre. The Robert Lepage production was all set in a muddy swamp with the lovers romping around in the sludge. Timothy Spall was playing Bottom and the most staggering contortionist was playing Puck. I remember so vividly that moment when Bottom was 'transformed'- Puck (Angela Laurier) leapt  on to Bottom's back and the actresses feet became Bottom's donkey ears- alive twitching and full of character. I was transfixed. After the play Mum and I went on the 'National Behind the scenes' tour and got to handle the props and see the costume store... I was completely mesmerised. That was the moment I got the bug.'

Clive Rowe

'Sitting under a cardboard palm tree at around the age of nine, on the school stage waiting for the piano to play the intro to my first ever solo line, I had no idea what my journey would be. All I knew was even though I was nervous I felt totally safe. I didn't think I was going to be a professional actor for the rest of my life, but I knew, deep down, that whatever I became theatre would be part of that. In so many ways that solo line from the children’s musical Jonah Man Jazz was very apt - "I need a boat man that will carry me away".'

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Thea Sharrock

'One of the first productions I ever saw, was Robert Stephens' King Lear for the RSC. When he came out carrying Cordelia in his arms I was moved to tears - something I had never experienced before in a theatre. I believed so completely in his story, was so utterly overwhelmed by the fracturing of this man before my eyes. It will stay with me forever.'

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Alison Steadman OBE

'I joined Liverpool Youth Theatre when I was 15. Suddenly I realised there was something I was good at and enjoyed. There were no scary auditions. Enthusiasm and commitment was all that was required. It opened a door for me. I've never looked back.'

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David Suchet CBE

'At 17 as a member of the National Youth Theatre, I was in a production of Ben Johnson’s Bartholomew Fair at the Royal Court.  After the play, I went down to the side of the stage and with my make-up bag in hand, watched the scenery come down.  I was remembering just a few minutes ago being on stage – hearing the laughter of the audience – and it was at that moment I realised that I wanted to be part of this special world of storytelling and make-believe for the rest of my life.'

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Zoë Wanamaker CBE

'One of the reasons I fell in love with theatre is because it's all to do with stories and magic and the suspension of disbelief. The craft in making it look simple and easy is what is so mesmerising and mind expanding. It never ceases to surprise and delight me.'

 

Samuel West

'My experience with theatre began a bit different from most, because my parents are both actors. When I was six years old, I was taken to see Love's Labours Lost by Shakespeare, probably one of his hardest plays to understand. And of course though I didn't understand most of it, it was played very quickly and very funnily and my father fell over a lot (deliberately) which I loved. At one point in the play the three boys have to disguise themselves as Russians, and the director had them come on dressed as cosmonauts with big space helmets, and playing the theme from '2001'. I remember thinking how clever it was of Shakespeare to anticipate the moon landings by nearly 400 years.

When I was seven, I went to see Dr Who live on stage, and I remember The Doctor having a fight with an enormous lobster claw fifteen feet long, that loomed out of the darkness. Because I knew the actor playing The Doctor (Trevor Martin), we went round backstage afterwards and I remember walking onto the stage and seeing the lobster claw looking all ordinary under the fluorescent lighting they used between shows. But oddly, this didn't make the magic of what we had seen any less special. So perhaps that's where my love of theatre on both sides of the curtain began.'

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Roy Williams OBE

'As a kid I think I was on the hunt for something to be good at.  Growing up black in the 80s, it seemed sport was the only thing a black man could do to succeed.  I loved football, I still do, but I was hopeless at it.  When I was 11, I was doing very badly at school because of my constant day dreaming. My mum paid for a private tutor, who was also a playwright and director. He was a grown man, doing what I was dreaming about, writing stories about other lives. Sometimes, instead of our usual lesson, I would tag along and watch him rehearse with his actors on his new plays. I always came out thinking, if they can do it, so can I.'

 

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In memory of Alan Rickman

'Primary School. Aged seven. Title role: King Grizzly Beard. Said item cut from rug and applied with Sellotape.

Thinks....."This is as good as it gets...."'

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Contact Us

Mousetrap Theatre Projects
33 Shaftesbury Avenue,
LONDON
W1D 7EH

Visitors: Entrance is on Rupert Street

t: 020 7632 4111
e: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Registered charity number 1053434

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