Founding Director of The Bear Pit Theatre, David Mears, is to step down after 15 years of continual dedicated service as artistic director.
Formed in 2008, The Bear Pit established a base in Stratford-upon-Avon’s United Reformed Church, converting the church hall in response to a lack of affordable space for amateur theatre groups and artists. The hall, previously used for church events, was in 2012 transformed into the town’s first little community venue of a 100-seat auditorium, utilising the Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) Courtyard Theatre seating. Under David’s artistic directorship, The Bear Pit became a member of the Little Theatre Guild in 2014, joining a number of other popular little theatres across the country. The company also established a unique link with the RSC to ticket all Bear Pit Theatre events.
Alongside his role as artistic director, David has been a trustee of The Bear Pit since 2011 and a Bear Pit associate artist. He has directed and performed in over 20 Bear Pit productions, including Roald Dahl’s The Witches, The Ladykillers, Toad of Toad Hall, Jim Cartwright’s Two and as part of the First World War centenary, Blackadder Goes Forth.
Together with a troupe of Bear Pit actors, David worked on the RSC’s Open Stages projects and performed Bottom in the RSC’s 2016 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which saw Bear Pit actors perform the Mechanicals on the Royal Shakespeare Theatre stage alongside a cast of professional actors, directed by Erica Whyman.
David said, “Leading The Bear Pit Theatre has been a huge privilege. Reimagining what was once a badminton hall into a fully functioning theatre has been a challenging achievement that I will always be proud of. I have remained loyal to The Bear Pit for so many years, volunteering all my personal time to ensure the success and growth of both the theatre company and venue.”
“It has been a real joy to be part of a small group of dedicated people, who rolled up their sleeves and turned their hand to anything and everything; helping to make the theatre what it is today that so many know and love. I would like to thank all of the volunteers who have generously given their time and support, in particular the original Bear Pit trustees and the URC Elders, who could see the potential of these spaces. I would also like to thank the Stratford Town Trust who funded the dressing rooms’ building project and our community cinema and the RSC for their collaboration. Lastly and most importantly, I would like to thank our audiences, who have wholeheartedly supported our journey from its inception by attending our shows, making donations, and spreading the word – I thank you.
David said of his decision, “The time has come for me to set my sights on new challenges and the many projects I still hope to achieve both professionally and personally. Now is the time for me to rededicate myself to my loving family, friends, and fun – the next adventure is just beginning.”