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Pentameters Theatre: Crowdfunder to save Hampstead institution extended, as comic Ben Elton reminisces

PUBLISHED: 14:53 25 August 2020 | UPDATED: 16:40 25 August 2020

Volunteers Oliver Edwards and Asher Breuer-Weil with L�onie Scott-Matthews and Godfrey Old at Pentameters. Picture: Polly Hancock

Volunteers Oliver Edwards and Asher Breuer-Weil with L�onie Scott-Matthews and Godfrey Old at Pentameters. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

The fundraising campaign to safeguard the future of Hampstead’s Pentameters Theatre will continue for a further month, while writer and comic Ben Elton has backed the campaign – and reminisced about seeing Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson perform in 1980.

Léonie Scott-Matthews and Godfrey Old at Pentameters. Picture: Polly HancockLéonie Scott-Matthews and Godfrey Old at Pentameters. Picture: Polly Hancock

The fundraiser launched at the beginning of August and has now raised £5,000 of its £8,000 target – but the organisers are have now extended their deadline until September 29.

Léonie Scott-Matthews, who founded Pentameters in 1968 and continues to run it, told this paper that since the fundraiser began, she had been delighted to hear from many old performers.

READ MORE: Pentameters Theatre campaign gets boost from Victoria Coren Mitchell

She said: “What’s been exciting for is all the people from the past who have come back and got in touch – the likes of your Ben Eltons, it’s been wonderful.”

Mr Elton, most recently involved in writing musicals including We Will Rock You, wrote on the crowdfunding page: “Saw Rik and Ade perform at Pentameters Autumn 1980 in a double bill with Nigel Planer and Pete Richardson. That night they told me they were forming a club called The Comic Strip. Great memories.”

A French and Saunders and Ben Elton poster - they performed over the weekend of Charles and Diana's wedding. Picture: Polly HancockA French and Saunders and Ben Elton poster - they performed over the weekend of Charles and Diana's wedding. Picture: Polly Hancock

Mr Elton played at Pentameters, on the same bill as Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French, on the weekend of Prince Charles’ wedding to Princess Diana in 1981.

The fundraising has been organised by a group of young people who have gravitated towards Pentameters.

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Asher Breuer-Weil and Oliver Edwards told the Ham&High why they wanted to help out.

Asher said: “We had both been away from a while and it struck us the pandemic would have hit hard here.”

The pair said that when they had spoken to Léonie, and became aware of difficulty covering rent and changes mandated by a health and safety report, they wanted to help out.

Oliver said: “The idea initially was to try and help move things around and to help out to get things in shape to reopen – obviously that spiralled.

“We have been coming here since we were 15. I was trying to get some work experience and nowhere else would take me. We were in drama together and we rehearsed our A Level play here.

“I have worked in lots of theatres in a number of places, but I always come back here.”

Asher said: “It’s just a community here. Léonie takes you in if you hang around long enough.”

The crowdfunder is available at crowdfunder.co.uk/save-pentameters-theatre


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