Supporter Spotlight: Sam Sheppard
Sam Sheppard is a member of our Artistic Director’s Circle and has been supporting Bell Shakespeare in a variety of ways for many years. We chatted to Sam about her passion for theatre and her journey so far with the Company.
1. What was your first experience with Bell Shakespeare?
My passion for the theatre comes from Mum. She exposed me to productions from an early age and started taking me to the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon from the age of nine. I then went on to study drama at school. Mum was my teacher, director and taxi driver to many youth theatres. Mum probably saw John Bell performing at the RSC but wouldn’t have predicted that she would end up in Australia and be so involved in the Company he founded. When I moved to Australia, I quickly began looking for a new Shakespeare company to call home. I can’t remember my first production, but not long after arriving I was introduced to the Company by then Chair, Ilana Atlas, to do a small piece of work for the board, which connected me to this wonderful team. I’ve been involved ever since.
2. What has been your favourite Bell Shakespeare production and why?
The 2017 Production of Richard III sticks in my mind. Both Kate Mulvany’s performance and Peter Evans’ direction. Championing women in leadership has been a key part of my professional life so this production particularly resonated with me.
It’s important to note that Bell Shakespeare is greater than any single production – their impact both on and off stage is what differentiates them for me.
3. What is your greatest memory you’ve shared with the Company?
When I received a hand-written note from John Bell thanking me for my support. I was so delighted I pinned it to my fridge and kept it there until the fridge fell apart.
4. Do you have a pre- or post-theatre tradition?
It’s usually about sharing the experience with Mum. We meet at the theatre, share a glass of wine before the show and it’s our special time to catch up in a busy life. The theatre is a very personal and warm experience for me. Every show I see is another memory to create with my mum.
I also never read the program at the theatre. I always take it home and read it page to page post-performance.
5. Why do you support Bell Shakespeare?
The people. There is an amazing feeling within this Company. My love of theatre and Shakespeare is where I started, but the Bell family is why I stay. It is a privilege to have access to the directors, cast, design teams and Company to see a production evolve from the rehearsal room to the stage. There is also incredible work happening within the Company via education programs and work in Juvenile Justice centres. The vision and mission of this company perfectly aligns with my values and my sense of purpose. I grew up in a small regional town in the UK and feel very grateful for the experiences and skills that touring theatre companies gave me. It’s made me who I am today and now it gives me pleasure to be able to give back. If just one life is touched and shaped by the wonderful work this Company does then it’s worth it.
6. What excites you about the future of the Company?
I’m most excited to see the realisation of Peter’s vision as Artistic Director. He is backed by an amazing company and team. While respecting and building on the incredible legacy left by John Bell, I have absolute confidence that Bell Shakespeare will continue to lead the way artistically and socially.
This is a very exciting time for Bell Shakespeare and I feel very privileged to be part of the journey.
If you want to be part of an Australian theatre company that has the power to change you and our society then this is the company for you.
If you would like to share your story with us about what moves you to support Bell Shakespeare, we would love to hear from you. Email email@example.com