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Fringe underdog in 15th year on stage

PUBLISHED: 11:18 25 March 2010 | UPDATED: 17:44 25 August 2010

PRESENCE: Alice de Sousa as Hedda Gabler

PRESENCE: Alice de Sousa as Hedda Gabler

A THEATRE that has never received a penny in council funding is celebrating its 15th anniversary with a series of special performances. The Greenwich Playhouse Theatre, has been running since 1995, and will be beginning a year of performances marking th

A THEATRE that has never received a penny in council funding is

celebrating its 15th anniversary with a series of special performances.

The Greenwich Playhouse Theatre, has been running since 1995, and will be beginning a year of performances marking the milestone with a production of The Cherry Orchard next Tuesday.

The venue in Greenwich High Road held celebrated its 15th anniversary in December, while the Galleon Theatre Company, co-funded by business partners Alice de Sousa and Bruce Jamieson, marked its 20th birthday last November.

Ms de Sousa said: "In Greenwich, larger venues are supported but smaller ones aren't.

"Whatever grant I apply for I do not get, because national bodies I apply to contact the council and ask them which venues are worth supporting.

"The council's view is that funding must be focused on the larger venues in borough.

"To be honest, I managed to stay afloat through great personal debt and visiting the bank often and asking for more money. And I have visiting companies perform at the theatre.

"It is the only venue in Greenwich to produce productions all year round.

"We get fantastic visiting shows and Gallion's shows have built up the reputation of the venue."

Three years after the theatre opened, a campaign was mounted to save the venue after new landlords threatened to boot them out.

Ms de Sousa added: "The local press and residents really fought for it not to be closed.

"The taxpayers love the venue. They fought for it and the local MP is a great supporter but it seems whatever we do, we don't get funding.

"We are one of the few venues that is open 12 months a year.

"Theatre is so volatile. My pricing has to remain consistent. And we only have 84 tickets to sell but the price of everything else seems to be going up."

Mr Jamieson, 50, said he loves the intimate space but would like to "go up a notch" and find a venue with 150 seats.

He added: "It's been a great 15 years.

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