JIMMY Fairhurst can often be found in the pub – but it is where he tends to work the hardest.

While most of us nip in for a pint to relax or put responsibilities to one side for an hour or two, the Burtonwood resident sees pubs and other community venues as vital to his mission to make theatre more accessible to people from all backgrounds.

Jimmy founded the award-winning Not Too Tame Productions with Louise Haggerty almost 10 years ago and in that time the acclaimed shows have found natural homes in bars, working men’s clubs, music venues and sports clubs.

The convention breaking company focuses on making theatre more accessible and creating stories that celebrate regional identity and community spirit.

They have also been on world stages as far as Shanghai International Festival.

Now Jimmy and his team have secured a three-year residency in Warrington thanks to a partnership with Warrington Borough Council and Culture Warrington, which he sees as his homecoming.

Warrington Guardian:

Jimmy, whose brother is Slydigs frontman Dean Fairhurst, said: “It’s a great opportunity. We’ve been taking work to other places up and down the country and now we get to take it home to where it should have been done in the first place

“I’m looking forward to coming back and trying to provide what I never had.

“Those opportunities weren’t really there. The amateur dramatics scene in Warrington is fantastic but there was nothing professional at the time.

“Stephen Graham was saying the other day you need to see people succeed from your neck of the woods. He saw actor Andrew Schofield, who lived over the road from his grandmother, and so he thought: ‘Right I can do that’.

“The same thing happened with Jodie Comer. In her BAFTA acceptance speech she said: ‘If it wasn’t for Stephen Graham I wouldn’t be where I am’.

“That’s what you need to see. People think the last big name to come out of Warrington was Pete Postlethwaite or Sue Johnston but that’s not the case. We’ve started contacting people from the industry who grew up in Warrington.

“There are loads and you’d never know it but they all had to go away from the town because there aren’t the provisions here.

“If you hear about people who have gone into the industry in make-up, design or costumes it’s exciting because you can say: ‘How did you get into it?’”

Creating a hub for Warrington creatives is one thing but Not Too Tame will also host workshops, careers days and work in schools, colleges and universities.

Jimmy, who is currently in rehearsals for the play Two in Stoke, said: “I’m doing some work with the University of Chester and I talk about how I got to where I am and explain that these jobs are there for them as well. You can do whatever you want with a lot of graft.”

In a similar vein, Jimmy wants to reach audiences who think theatre is ‘not for them’ and change their perceptions.

He added: “Sadly people probably think what I thought when I was 17 and didn’t know about theatre

“I thought: ‘That’s not for me. It’s posh, it’s pompous, it’s full of people who aren’t like me’ – but it’s not like that at all.

“If you like going out and having a laugh with your mates and having a pint and listening to music and being told stories – it’s that.

“It’s like when people first heard the Arctic Monkeys and went: ‘They’re like me. They speak like me and talk about things from my life’ – that’s what I think we do. For the price of two pints, I promise you, you’ll be entertained.”

Not Too Tame’s first Warrington show as part of the residency will be called Britpop and there will be open auditions on March 6 and 7 before four performances at the end of April in a different venues including two in pubs or clubs.

Jimmy said: “It will be all north west based performers and there’s a band in it as well so it’s going to be very different to what people expect from theatre.”

Warrington Guardian:

Despite proposals to build a new theatre in the town hitting a dead end last year, Jimmy reckons a different type of performance space is not impossible.

He added: “People have this idea of a proscenium arch classic theatre and we’re not going to get one because a lot of them are closing as it is. You can’t fill them.

“But what I’d like to do with Not Too Tame is create a bespoke ‘pub theatre’ where a pub and performance space would work hand-in-hand as one venue for all.

“Look at Neighbourhood Weekender, look at Museum of the Moon – people came out in their droves for that.

“There is an appetite for entertainment and culture. People want a good night out and they want value for money and that’s what we’ll try and give them.”

Jimmy was encouraged to pursue acting by teachers at St Aelred’s.

He then found further inspiration after meeting Pete Postlethwaite at Manchester’s Royal Exchange and so he changed paths after studying English lit at at first Cardiff.

Jimmy, who got to read scripts with Cate Blanchett while on his first tour with theatre company Cheek by Jowl, said: “I was really fortunate as I got a bursary at Royal Welsh College because without that I probably wouldn’t be able to do it. While I was there I met a lot of the directors that I know now.

“I also met Paul Abbott, who created Shameless, and he said the odds are stacked against you if you’re from a working-class background but if you work hard you’ll get somewhere.

“I took that to heart and stuck my head down and have done since. Even now I’m affected by imposter syndrome. I get that voice in my head saying: ‘Who am I to be an actor? Who am I to be director?’

“You’ve got to have confidence. That’s a big thing and that’s the reason I work with schools and young adults – to instil confidence.

“Confidence comes from knowing who you are, believing in your abilities and being able to pat yourself on the back.”

For more information about the Britpop open auditions email info@nottootame.com

For tickets or more details about the show click here