Cardiff Open Air Theatre Company
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The Founder

Roll Call

Cardiff Open Air Theatre Company 1970-1979
Wales's most successful Children's Theatre

The Cardiff Open Air Theatre Company was founded in May 1970 by Cardiff actor Roger Nott with the specific aim of providing live entertainment for the family audience whilst giving children the opportunity to watch live stage performances. The company was happy to be able to draw on a number of South Wales based professional actors and actresses, for many of whom the opportunity to work in Wales was rare and most of them were forced to find their employment elsewhere, usually in London.

The company's first venture was its successful production of Treasure Island in the open air at Roath Park in the summer of 1970. After this encouraging start the company's second production was A Christmas Carol which was presented under its winter mantle as the C.O.A.T. Players.

It was Roger's view that "Theatre ceases to function as such if the public are not drawn to it. Too often Theatre people are out of touch with those who form their audience. It is my aim to ensure an audience of the future by encouraging the young people of today to enjoy the theatre."

With the support and encouragement of the Welsh Arts Council, Cardiff City Council and South Glamorgan Council, the company was able to provide professional children's theatre in an informal setting that encouraged children from all backgrounds to become the theatre-goers of the future.

During its ten year run the company commissioned twelve new plays and presented the Welsh premieres of five others and of all the people involved in the ten years of the company's existence 72% were Welsh. The company employed in the region of 138 actors and stage staff over ten years, as well as 40 or so directors, writers, designers, musicians, choreographers and fight arrangers. For many of those involved this was their first job in theatre and, each year, as many as several sought after "Equity Cards", admission to the British Actors Union and the doorway to a professional career, were awarded.

The company ran on extremely tight budgets and much credit for the company's ten year passage must be paid to Roger's wife Christine, administrator of the company throughout its life time.