Russell Brand and Kelly Brook’s acting coach celebrates company’s 20th anniversary

The director of a theatre company which is celebrating its 20th anniversary says working with young people “gives you energy”.

Kevin Dowsett set up Theatretrain two decades ago in Ilford and since then the company has grown to having 90 centres nationally.

Mr Dowsett, 60, still has a centre in the borough which is now at Oaks Park Primary School, Oaks Lane, Newbury Park. He said: “I worked for local theatre schools and I thought the idea of theatre could be done better. I thought I could do something more theatrical.

“Drama gives children an opportunity to explore their feelings in a constructive way.”

Each year the children at the drama workshops get to perform in large venues which in the past have included the Theatre Royal and the London Palladium, both in the West End.

“The biggest show was in 2010 at the Royal Albert Hall,” said Mr Dowsett. “We had 120 children from 26 countries and they all worked with us for 10 days and did a show. It was quite special.”

Mr Dowsett, who lived in Stanhope Gardens, Ilford, for 20 years, set up his first drama centre in Valentines High School, Cranbrook Road, Gants Hill, in 1992.

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He is now getting the students ready for their biggest show to date at the O2 Arena next summer.

“We are excited, it’s a step up for us,” he said. “We are training someone to be a performer and going into a proper working theatre with high production value, it’s a completely different experience to being in a school hall.”

Mr Dowsett began teaching drama in 1973 and over the past 40 years he has taught stars including Russell Brand and Kelly Brook.

“These people when they were young, you could see their qualities,” he said. “I think young people give you energy and they bring their enthusiasm to a space and give you new ideas.”