Former Ilford theatre manager ‘sorry’ for exit of his successor

�The best way forward for the Kenneth More Theatre (KMT) is to “knuckle under, listen to the professionals and trust the people with true experience”, says former manager Vivyan Ellacott.

In a statement to the Recorder, Mr Ellacott revealed his feelings after last week’s shock announcement that theatre manager Robert Jackson was to leave after just nine months in the position.

“I’m sorry that it hasn’t worked out for Robert Jackson,” he said. “He has clearly been unhappy for some time and that’s a shame, since the theatre has always been such a happy place to work – not just for the performers, but for the volunteers and the audience”

Mr Ellacott, who managed the KMT from its inception 37 years ago, said he was happy to help the theatre, but managing it was a job for a younger person.

“I love that building, I love the people who work there. If it was in trouble and needed help, I’d be the first person to give a hand, but that’s it, helping out when help is needed and not back to the 12-hour days. That’s for a younger person.”

He paid tribute to ideas Mr Jackson had introduced: “His afternoon performances have been very successful.”

But he blamed many of the pressures the theatre is facing on reducing costs and saving money.

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He said: “There’s so much uncertainty about the future of the KMT, rumours the entire grant will be taken away within three years. There’s even talk of merging the music school, drama centre and theatre itself with an outside organisation that currently runs the sports and leisure centres. No wonder there is unhappiness at the KMT.”

A meeting to decide on a new management strategy took place on Thursday.