Since 1995 to Present

Sir Alan Ayckborn CBE

Sir Alan Ayckbourn was the Artistic Director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre (SJT), Scarborough from 1972 - 2009, and is the author of many plays, more than half of which have been produced in the West End including a number at the Royal National Theatre.  The plays have been translated into over thirty languages and are performed world-wide on stage and television. He was the 1992 Cameron Mackintosh Professor of Contemporary Theatre at St Catherine’s College, Oxford and is the holder of several honorary degrees. He was awarded a CBE in 1987 and was knighted in 1997.

Sir Alan’s contact with Next Stage has been highly supportive and encouraging. Aside from regular communications, he invited Next Stage Theatre Company to perform at the SJT in March 2000 and March 2001. The first play Next Stage took was Sir David Hare’s Skylight and the second was Dennis Potter’s Blue Remembered Hills. Both productions were watched by Sir and Lady Ayckbourn.

In May 2014, Sir Alan and Lady Ayckbourn helped Next Stage to celebrate its 20th Birthday by attending Next Stage’s performances of Ayckbourn’s plays House and Garden on Saturday 17th May. Sir Alan and Lady Ayckbourn also joined members and supporters of Next Stage at a gala reception, held on Sunday 18th May 2014 at the famous Roman Baths.


Since 2000 to Present

Sir David Hare

Sir David Hare is one of the leading playwrights in British theatre. Born in Sussex in 1947, his first play, Slag, was produced in 1970. A founder member of the Joint Stock Company with William Gaskill and Max Stafford Clark, David Hare worked at the Royal Court before his involvement in 1971 with the National Theatre. Since Plenty in 1978 the National Theatre has produced 11 of his plays, including the highly-acclaimed trilogy: Racing DemonsMurmuring Judges and Absence of War.

Recognised as a skillful social commentator, Hare has had worldwide success and recognition with plays that also deal with the complexity of human relationships:  SkylightAmy’s View and The Blue Room.

Skylight was performed in Bath by Next Stage in September 1999, before the company toured it to Scarborough in March 2000. In December 2001 the company produced Amy’s View; in September 2004, The Blue Room; in September 2014, The Judas Kiss; and most recently, in March 2019, the company performed in a production of Plenty, as part of its 25th Birthday Celebrations.

In 1999 Sir David Hare wrote to the company saying he was “flattered” to be asked to become a patron. Next Stage members who were bringing Skylight to the SJT in March 2000, met and talked to Sir David following a platform performance in which he spoke movingly of his own experiences as depicted in his play: Via Dolorosa.


Since 2001 to Present

Dame Harriet Walter DBE

Dame Harriet Walter is an experienced and popular actress who has covered a wide range of drama, appearing in many productions for the Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company in Stratford (with whom she is an associate artist). She won Olivier awards for her performances in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Three Sisters and other outstanding roles include Imogen (Cymbeline), Helena (All’s Well That Ends Well), Lady Macbeth (Macbeth) opposite Anthony Sher and Mrs Loman (Death of a Salesman) also with Sher. Harriet’s other theatre credits include Women Beware Women at the Olivier NT, Dinner, The Children’s Hour and Arcadia all at the National Theatre and Three Birds Alighting on a Field, Cloud Nine, Hamlet and The Seagull all at the Royal Court. She played Elizabeth Ist in Mary Stuart (Donmar, West End) for which she won the Evening Standard Award and was nominated for a Tony Award for the Broadway transfer.

Television appearances include Unfinished BusinessThe Price and Lord Peter Wimsey, and she played in the Oscar winning film Sense and Sensibility. She has been involved in a wide variety of other film, television and radio work. She was appointed a CBE in 2000 and DBE in the Honours List 2011. Harriet has published three books: Other People’s Shoes, Macbeth (for the Faber series ‘Actors on Shakespeare’) and Facing It. Ann and Andrew were delighted to catch up with her in 2014 during the Bath Literature Festival.

When asked on a visit to Bath to become Next Stage’s first female patron Harriet’s response was “It looks like a good and necessary enterprise and I am all in favour of groups such as yours springing up ...”.


Since 2018 to Present

Robert Lindsay

Robert Lindsay has been delighting his public since graduating from RADA in the early 70’s. He has been seen in TV comedies, Hollywood films and West End and Broadway shows with seasons at the RSC and The National Theatre. A versatile and charismatic actor, Robert is perhaps best known for such memorable shows as Citizen Smith and GBH on television, Richard III for the RSC, Me and my Girl (London and New York), The Entertainer, Onassis and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels on stage.

Robert Lindsay became Next Stage’s Silver Anniversary Patron just before its 25th birthday in May 2019. Next Stage’s Artistic Director, Ann Ellison BEM has followed and admired Robert’s work since the 1970’s and in particular was inspired by him and Derek Jacobi when they appeared in Bath in Becket in 1991. When she knew Robert was coming to Bath with In Praise of Love, a play that Next Stage had produced in December 2016, Ann approached Robert to become the company’s Patron in its 25th year.

Lindsay said “I was really interested to read about Next Stage Theatre Company and its birth and development and thrilled to know that my Becket portrait was a slight inspiration. I would be delighted to act as your Patron.”


Next Stage Patron from 1995 until his death in 2015

Keith Michell - 1st December 1926 - 20th November 2015

Keith Michell was a young art teacher in Australia when he gained a place at the Old Vic School and went on to become a leading actor with the Young Vic, Stratford, and the Old Vic companies. In 1968, he was invited to join the company for the prestigious Chichester season and in 1974 he was asked to become Artistic Director of the Festival Theatre itself, acting in, or directing and designing a number of innovative, memorable productions.

Keith starred in a number of musicals including Robert and Elizabeth, Man of La Mancha and Aspects of Love. He also played a number of major roles in a video series of the Gilbert & Sullivan operas but probably reached his widest audience with the internationally-acclaimed Six Wives of Henry VIII.

Again, his support of Next Stage was not limited to name only. In May 1996, despite a very busy schedule, Keith found the time to design the publicity material for Next Stage’s production of Our Country’s Good.

In 2012, Ann and Andrew Ellison were delighted to meet with Keith Michell once again when he visited Bath to open an exhibition at the Costume Museum.

Sadly, Keith Michell passed away on 20th November 2015. 


Next Stage Theatre Company Roll of Honour

Next Stage Theatre Company acknowledges with gratitude the contributions made to fundraising by the following individuals and organisations:

Sir Alan Ayckbourn CBE

Sally Barton

Cherry Beath

Frank and Margaret Bonner

Joanna Bowman

Andrew Brownsword

Bob and Sue Bunyar

Linda and Russ Carr

Alan and Bridget Cassé

Marshall Cassé

Cllr Paul Crossley

Tina Deacon

Ann and Andrew Ellison

Maureen and David Ellison

John and Barbara Else

Geoff Evans

Andrew Fletcher OBE

George Gent

Marjorie and Don Goddard

Caroline and Graham Groom

Sir David Hare

Brian Howe

Herb Kanzell

Stuart Kettner

John and Lesley Langley

Steve Leanaghan

Christine McCoy

James Marlow

Ian and Jenny Matthews

John and Linda Matthews

Joan Newman

Chris Noble

Sheila Novels

Suzanne O’Callaghan

Nigel Pollard

Molly Price-Smith

Beatrice Rossiter

Roger Symonds

Daphne Turner

Peter Turner

Leo Westhead

Marion and Tony Wood

Sheila Whittaker

Avonvale Carpets

Enlightened Lighting

Minuteman Press

Passionate About Flowers

Stage Style Costumes

Steve Zatchij Electrical 

The Brownsword Charitable Foundation

Quartet Community Foundation

The Joyce Fletcher Charitable Foundation

The Medlock Charitable Trust

The Roper Family Charitable Trust

The Mission Theatre’s Angels

And the many other Next Stagers and subscribers who wish to remain anonymous. The continued existence of The Mission Theatre is thanks to the generous support of these people.