Executive Director Sally Anne Tye shares unique connections in the company's golden anniversary year


Anniversaries provide the chance to reflect, celebrate and look ahead - to understand where we have come from. In the case of New Perspectives, 50 years strong, to hear from the hundreds of people who have helped to shape the company as we move into our fifth decade.

In 1973, when Bretton Hall graduates David Johnston, Colin Hicks, Richard Pinner, Christopher Vine and Carol Leader founded the company, my experience of theatre consisted of a heady mix of Spalding Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society (SADOS) productions – including being a munchkin in the Wizard of Oz, pantomimes at our local Key Theatre in Peterborough and biannual family trips to see West End musicals. A-level drama at Boston College introduced me to Blackfriars Arts Centre, at the time a jewel in an area otherwise considered as a cultural backwater. At eighteen I wrote a warts and all essay on its management and infrastructure, reviewing several productions including an Easten Angles staging of David Rudkin’s Ashes. I remember this production vividly, largely because some of the content was uncomfortable watching sat next to my Mum, however to see the writing of a contemporary of Pinter’s on a small arts centre stage in Boston was something of a rarity. Then came Bretton Hall and a three-year music degree, before a postgrad diploma in Cardiff where I fell into my first job at the Sherman Theatre. My Bretton Hall friend Celia had landed a job at Forest Forge, before some years later moving on to become the Admin Director for Solent People’s Theatre. So it was through her experience that over the course of a few years I learnt about the value of rural and community touring second hand, from the comfort of building-based theatres. Little did I know that after working in thirteen different organisations in ten different locations from Sunderland to Sheffield, Dublin to Derby and six voluntary board roles later that in 2011 I would join New Perspectives in a freelance capacity as Associate Fundraiser and from 2013 become Executive Director. 

Celebrating the New Perspectives 40th anniversary felt like I'd come full circle – carrying the Bretton Hall baton uniting as alumnus with the company founders as we toured The Lovesong of Alfred J Hitchcock by none other than the visionary writer David Rudkin. Joining the National Rural Touring Forum as a voluntary board member presented the opportunity to actively contribute at a national level; including securing funding for a major piece of research to demonstrate the economic and social impact of rural touring – a nationwide map of bold programming, enjoyed by adventurous risk-taking audiences and creating transformative change.

But mine is just one of a trio of stories of serendipitous encounters with New Perspectives. Company founder David Johnston went onto run Roundabout the TIE company at Nottingham Playhouse before becoming Director of Tangere Arts. He was working with actor Gary Lagden who he accompanied on a blind date with none other than our Participation Director Jayne Williams. They went on to marry, so Jayne not only has a link to the company’s roots but met her husband Gary through the connection!

As a fresh graduate, our Artistic Director/CEO Angharad Jones met with former Artistic Director Daniel Buckroyd to pick his brains on setting up a new theatre company. Together she and Laura Ford went on to form Fifth Word in 2007 which they co-directed until Anghard joined New Perspectives in 2021. With insight from Daniel, they went on to grow an award-winning company and last year both companies joined forces for the first time to co-produce a UK tour of We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo to capitalise on the connection.

Attending a garden party at Buckingham Palace recently to celebrate creativity alongside colleagues from across the country, made me realise that I have now played a part of the stewardship of the company for over a third of my career. I have worked with three of the five Artistic Directors, touring thirty-two new productions, transferring performances made for audiences in village halls and studio theatres to venues in New York, Singapore and London, actively contributing to our talent development and participatory programmes. Whether championing PhD research, realising projects stretching from Boston to Cleethorpes or steering the company's first West End run of the award-winning production of The Fishermen, each day brings a fresh challenge. The pandemic didn’t stop our creativity - live touring became drama on postcards, via podcast, audiobook, WhatsApp, telephone as we connected with audiences worldwide and the list goes on… I feel privileged to play a small part in the company’s journey and have seen at first hand the difference New Perspectives contributes through opening doors to career possibilities and opportunities, championing creativity and wellbeing and producing and touring new plays that spark conversations and encourage new perspectives.

We have re-visited the rich history held in our archives as special collection at the University of Nottingham and next month launch a limited edition 50-postcard collection featuring production images across the five decades. It has helped us to reflect and track the journey of the company from Peterborough to Nottingham via Mansfield and hubs across the East Midlands. To interrogate the social history and ever-changing political landscape, the context that helped shape the company. We recognise the hundreds of people and thousands of hours that have brought the company to where is today, from trustees to audiences, actors and creatives on stage and staff teams behind the scenes, participants, voluntary promoters, the many funders and donors who have supported our work over half a century. You can hear some of the voices that have helped to shape the company in our NP podcast series.  But we all have stories to tell and invite you to share your New Perspectives story with us – by email, postcard, or letter – we’d love to hear from you. Half a century is no mean feat - thriving for five decades thanks to bold imagination, brave creative work and making lasting connections - here’s to the next 50 years!