Whitstable has long been celebrated for its annual events and activities, plus a very vibrant live music scene and visual arts community. With the ever popular Oyster Festival, the historic Carnival, the fantastic Harbour Day and now Whit Lit, this town leads the way in Kent for creativity and culture.
Kent Coast Theatre (KCT), is based in at The Horsebridge Centre in Whitstable, compliments and works alongside these events and adds to the unique fabric in this very eclectic town. Founded in July 2015 by Lou Fowkes and Alison Mead, KCT aims to champion new writing, challenge and re-work traditional plays and perform in interesting and non-theatre spaces. Above all, we offer local actors the chance to perform in a professional environment, working to a high level of expertise, with advice, support and guidance. We are also delighted that our Patron is Whitstable resident and acclaimed actor of theatre, film, TV and radio Raymond Coulthard.
KCT ran its first Theatre Workshops in the Autumn of 2015 at Whitstable Castle. The ten weeks covered theatre disciplines such as performance skills, text work, improvisation, physical and vocal techniques, character building and Commedia. The group of fifteen actors then presented selected scenes from well-known plays at a ‘Showcase Evening’, at The Horsebridge, in front of an invited audience of friends and family. The reaction and response on the night was truly overwhelming and immensely positive. KCT has continued its educational programme in both 2016 and 2017 in order to develop our actors’ technique in theatre performance. And of course, we will once again be running the course in 2018.
Our debut production ‘Animal Farm’ written by George Orwell in 1945, took place at The Horsebridge Centre in the July of 2016. Reflecting on the events leading up to the Russian Revolution and then on into the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union, it was a challenging and thought-provoking piece of theatre that our audiences thoroughly responded to in a hugely positive way.
Our 2017 production ‘Women of Kent’ was a trilogy of new writing, exploring the lives and loves of three famous women of Kent; Anne Boleyn, Ellen Terry and Vita Sackville-West. These new plays were performed at both the Arden Theatre in Faversham and at Whitstable Castle Tea Gardens (open air). This was a very exciting development for the theatre company and offered local audiences a very different theatrical experience. Our 2018 production will have its first read-through on Monday 5 February at the Horsebridge from 7pm. Any new local actors and those interested in stage crew or production would be most welcome.
Our 2018 production was ‘Sand Castles’, which took place at The Arden Theatre. A brilliant play written by Bob Larbey who famously co-wrote TV gold when he penned ‘The Good Life’ and followed it up with classic hits ‘A Fine Romance’ and ‘As Time Goes By’ it was jam packed with complete chaos on a British beach, full of hilariously strong characters and our audiences loved it!
June 2019 we again showcased new writing with a piece written especially for KCT. ‘R.S.V.P’ was a dark comedy which delved into the classic British Summertime must-do event – the garden party.
Additional to our main production, for the last three years (they keep asking us back!) we have provided outdoor theatre at Harbour Day, with specific children’s shows with a nautical theme, that will delight and enthral our young audiences.
This year (2020) we have some very special plans – a brand new dark, gritty adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas ghost story ‘A Christmas Carol.’
KCT Aims & Objectives
- To commission and produce new and exciting theatre, that engages and involves the local communities of East Kent.
- To re-work traditional plays and identify, encourage and showcase new and emerging playwrights from the East Kent area.
- To use traditional theatre venues, non-theatre spaces and site specific venues, to encourage diverse audiences.
- To offer local actors the chance to perform in a professional environment, working to a high level of expertise, with advice, support and guidance.
- To provide acting workshops on a regular basis, covering such disciplines as performance skills, improvisation, physical and vocal techniques, text work, character building and audition training.
- To work with cultural providers, the business sector and other regional partners, to maximise the reach and impact of the KCT experience.
- To develop the KCT brand and create innovative partnerships through association with organisations in East Kent, the South East Region and where appropriate, nationwide.
- To develop theatre by and for people that encourages interaction and pride of place within the community, ensuring that productions are fully accessible to all members of the community.
- To allow each KCT Member to discover and develop new and existing talents and skills and encourage them to achieve their full potential.
- To ensure each Member is a valued and important part of the KCT Company.
LOU FOWKES – ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Lou has worked, in both professional and non-professional arts and entertainment throughout her life. This has taken her across London and the South East working in all areas such as technical/stage management, box office, administration, programming, press relations, marketing and house management.
Originally from Surrey, as an actress Lou appeared in numerous roles including Betty Parris in ‘The Crucible’, Mrs Johnson in ‘Blood Brothers’, Sarah in ‘Liber Amoris’, Nancy Holmes in ‘When We Are Married’, Canny in ‘Conversations With A Golliwog’, Sharon in ‘Outside Edge’, lots of characters in ‘The Life & Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby’ and as a horse (and a pig!) in ‘Animal Farm.’
Musicals include Velma Kelly in ‘Chicago’, Katisha in ‘Hot Mikado’, Ronette in ‘Little Shop of Horrors’, Sister Robert Anne in ‘Nunsense’, Lady Beaconsfield in ‘Jekyll & Hyde’, The Blues Singer in ‘Barnum’, chorus in ‘Godspell’ and a singing tree in ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ She has directed Alan Ayckbourn’s ‘Confusions’, the Stephen Schwartz musical ‘The Bakers Wife’ and of course productions for KCT. Lou has created musical theatre reviews ‘Roundabout the West End’ and ‘Listen.’ On the educational side, Lou has run numerous workshops over the years, for both children and adults, in theatre and performance skills and now the annual workshops for KCT, with guest workshop leaders invited from the arts and entertainment industry.
Lou has also sung in various R&B/jazz/blues bands which included ‘Battered and Blues’d’ for 20 years, performing across the UK. Lou popped into the recording studio a few years back with the band which culminated in an album entitled ‘Just Fine.’ Having moved over to Kent in 2011, Lou is now part of a six-piece blues/rock band entitled ’Catching Fire’ as well as regularly deputising for other vocalists in the South East. Lou also performs as a solo vocalist in pubs, clubs, restaurants and care homes.
Lou has a very supportive husband Rodger and son Sam and a very lovely westie dog called Bobbi.
Raymond Coulthard – Patron
Whitstable resident and acclaimed actor, Raymond Coulthard has worked extensively in theatre, film, TV and radio.
Having trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, graduating in 1991, Raymond’s film credits include Chris in ‘The Best Man’, Grigory Alexandrov in ‘Eisenstein’, Rupert Douglas in ‘The English Patient’ and Young Scrooge in ‘A Muppet Christmas Carol.’
His television appearances include Jacob Pasha in ‘Da Vinci’s Demons’ (Series 2 & 3), Miles Egerton in ‘Mr Selfridge’ (Series 2 & 3), Major Goodacre in ‘Call The Midwife’, James Schofield in ‘Hotel Babylon’ (Series 1,2,3 & 4), Matt Strong in ‘Casualty’, Mark in ‘Extras’, Archie Christie in ‘Agatha Christie: A Life In Pictures’, Ambassador in ‘Casanova’ and Frank Churchill in ‘Emma.’
Raymond has appeared on stage in the following roles: Celimare in ‘Monsieur Popular’ (Theatre Royal Bath), King George VI in ‘The King’s Speech’ (UK Tour), Hector Hushabye in ‘Heartbreak House’ (Chichester Festival), Bishop Santa Cruz in ‘The Heresy Of Love’ (RSC), Duke Vincentio in ‘Measure For Measure’ (RSC), Hippolito in ‘Women Beware Women’ (National Theatre), Carear in ‘Caligula’ (Donmar Warehouse Theatre), Prince of Arragon in ‘The Merchant Of Venice’ (National Theatre), Christian in ‘Cyrano De Bergerac’ (RSC) and as Rupert Cazalet in ‘The Cazalets’ for BBC Radio.