Announcing Orange Tree Ambassadors

28 September 2016

The Orange Tree Theatre announces fourteen new Ambassadors – leading figures in the Arts and beyond – who will champion the work of the Theatre. They are Michael Attenborough, Samantha Bond and Alex Hanson, Gyles and Michele Brandreth, Judith Coke, Peter Davison and Elizabeth Heery, Philip Glenister and Beth Goddard, Baroness Susan Kramer, Sally Phillips, Paulette Randall and Fionn Whitehead.

Director Michael Attenborough’s parents, Lord and Lady Attenborough, were the Orange Tree’s first Patrons and key to securing the funding for the Theatre building in Clarence Street, Richmond. As a result, there is a room dedicated to the Attenborough family in the Theatre’s foyer space.  Paul Miller, OT Artistic Director, commented “It means a great deal to all of us at the OT, and no doubt to our audiences, that Michael is continuing his parents’ outstanding legacy as an Ambassador, helping to secure the Theatre’s future for the next generation.”

Actors Samantha Bond and Alex Hanson have a long history with the Orange Tree, particularly championing the Theatre’s local fundraising: “The quality of work we have seen produced by the Orange Tree team under Paul and Sarah has been exceptional, especially considering the challenges they’ve faced off-stage.  We are thrilled to lend our support to this very special theatre.” 

Gyles and Michele Brandreth are passionate about the Orange Tree’s Shakespeare productions for young people, which have introduced his plays to over 5,000 children as young as 6 years old every year, for over 30 years.  Gyles recently tweeted: “Exciting morning with the ace team @OrangeTreeThtr - they know what they're doing & they're doing it brilliantly.”

Actor Judith Coke has been a regular performer at the National Theatre since the 1980s and is responsible for the Michael Bryant Award, with Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the National Theatre, in memory of her late husband. Judith has had a long association with the Orange Tree having previously served on its Board of Trustees.

Actors Peter Davison and Elizabeth Heery said that “Having personal experience through our children, we believe The Orange Tree Youth Theatre is paramount in nurturing talent and giving young people the opportunity to build their confidence, work collaboratively, and challenge themselves and their view of the world. The gold standard of the ground-breaking work in the theatre, naturally pays dividends in the youth theatre. With plays like Pomona and Jess and Joe Forever, and performances that are consistently of such high quality, youngsters cannot fail to aspire to give the very best of themselves, in whatever field that might be.”

Philip Glenister and Beth Goddard, actors based in Barnes, Richmond, first became involved with the OT through its fundraising Gala, held on Richmond Green in 2015.  They have both since become closely involved with the Theatre, and have a particular admiration for the actors and creative teams that have thrived in its uniquely demanding space – with audience seated on all four sides of the stage.

MP for Richmond Park from 2005-10, Liberal Democrat Peer Baroness Susan Kramer has regularly attended performances at the Orange Tree for over a decade.  Following the OT’s change in leadership in 2014, Baroness Kramer has become an ardent supporter and advocate for its work.

Comedian, actor and writer Sally Phillips is a local champion of the OT and has recently performed work-in-progress Talking to Strangers there with fellow performer Lily Bevan, before taking the show to this summer’s Edinburgh Fringe. 

Paulette Randall MBE directed the first revival of Mustapha Mastura’s Play Mas at the Orange Tree in 2015, which won the inaugural Alfred Fagon Audience Award. Paulette was Associate Director on the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony and has been a champion of Black British Theatre.

Another Richmond local, Fionn Whitehead regularly attended the Theatre’s Youth Theatre for five years and has since pursued a career in acting, most notably taking the lead roles in Christopher Nolan’s soon-to-be-released Dunkirk and ITV drama Him (autumn release). Fionn has credited his success in part to his involvement with the OT, saying “I learnt so much and had such a good time at the Orange Tree through its Youth Theatre. There are so many new and exciting things going on there at the moment, it’s the first place I go to see new theatre because they are constantly introducing original and challenging plays.”