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Gary Phillpott (BA Hons in Creative Writing, 2012)

Artistic Director and Playright

With a passion for performance, production and playwrights, Artistic Director, Gary Phillpott has turned his dream of making theatre accessible to all into a reality.

Originally from West Sussex, Gary came to DMU in 2009 to study creative writing; leaving behind a career in finance to pursue his ambitions in the creative sector.

In Gary’s second year at DMU he studied a play called the Black Watch by Gregory Burke which gave him great inspiration and led him to seeing more plays.  During his course he was introduced to fellow student Verity Bartesch who teamed up with Gary to perform their piece in DMU’s Exit Souls Drama Festival.

In early 2011, Dr Jonathan Taylor a creative writing lecturer introduced Verity and Gary to playwright Bev Hancock who was currently working on a play in Newcastle and London but couldn’t find a venue in Leicester.

“Bev and I got talking about how more cultural events are needed in Leicester and how such a vibrant city could attract more people by using the talents within our society. From talking to Bev both Verity and I decided to commission four new plays (one from Bev) under the name “Off the Fence”  which has been running for two years and became a community interest company over a year ago. I took the position of Artistic Director and Verity is the Executive Producer.”

Off the Fence is a theatre company with a management team that all met and now live in Leicester. Much of their work has been rehearsed in Leicester and performed in the Midlands, with the venues being somewhere you wouldn’t necessarily think of going to see a show.

In December 2011 Off the Fence produced a site-specific performance turning Leicester Market into a theatre with three of the four directors being DMU students and eight of the fifteen actors also DMU students.

Making Leicester a more cultured city is a real passion of Gary’s and Off the Fence has allowed him to direct and write for a variation of arts, including; writing a play for National Heritage Day, staging Godot Was Here and directing his latest venture “Upstairs at the Western.”

“Our plan is for Upstairs at the Western to not only showcase Off the Fence’s work but to become a host for touring companies to perform. Off the Fence is a theatre company with a passion for performance producing fresh, innovative plays. We believe theatre should be accessible to all and aim to share it with as wide an audience as possible.”

Off the Fence has already received some remarkable reviews, the company plans to run on a trial basis at The Western pub, in Leicester’s West End from the beginning of March until the end of April with shows that include DMU showcase where De Montfort University drama and performing arts students will share a variety of their current work. 

With everything from plays, saxophonists and dance there promises to be something for all. Off the Fence will also be developing two plays to tour extensively throughout the UK in autumn 2014.

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