Starting A Theatre Company From Scratch – Episode 1

Last Updated on 5th May 2016

Helena Payne discusses the formation of Pleasure Dome Theatre Company

Helena Payne is starting out on an awfully big adventure to start a theatre company. We asked her to document her journey.

Episode 1: I have a cunning plan, m’lord!

How do you know when you’re ready to start your own theatre company? The answer I suppose is that it’s different for everybody, but now is as good a time as any. As a performer I have been working pretty steadily since leaving Drama School but, at the ripe old age of 27, there comes a time when you’re tired of facilitating other people’s dreams and ambitions and want to start realising your own. Saying that, I’m incredibly proud of and have learnt a huge amount from working with a variety of brilliant directors, producers, lighting and costume designers, stage managers and, of course, an army of spectacularly talented actors.

Although I have been incubating certain artistic dreams of my own since I was a child, I am glad I’ve waited until now to start putting them into action. It was very important to me that I wasn’t creating work in an effort to showcase myself and my friends. Indeed, it was imperative to create a company that would fill a void in the theatrical landscape by doing something genuinely innovative and new, and I hope we will achieve that.

Helena Payne on the formation of Pleasure Dome Theatre Company

In the wise words of Kirsty and Phil: Location, Location, Location

I didn’t want to create just another theatre company scrabbling away upstairs in London pubs, I wanted to create an institution, something that when I’m a batty old woman swathed in scarves and beads I can come and visit and enjoy chatting to the enthusiastic youngsters into whose hands it has passed. So unlike most of my contemporaries, who are all finessing plans for their weddings, I’m plotting a theatre company, and this one’s uniqueness was its location.

I am a West Country girl at heart, specifically Exmoor, and anyone who has visited The Valley of the Rocks in Lynton cannot fail to be moved by its magic and majesty. The USP of Pleasure Dome Theatre Company is to stage work that utilises this dramatic scenery and serves the community and holiday-makers of Exmoor. It’s difficult to put into words how astonishing a place it is; a valley of jagged rocks carved out by a glacier, overlooking an azure sea, swathed in burning bracken and grazed by glaze-eyed goats. I know that if I can get my proverbial ducks in a row there is no way that my lofty aspirations can’t become something truly spectacular. I suppose it’s time to start lining up those ducks…


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