'Good Yarns Make Powerful Theatre' - Retired Artistic Director, Sandra Bates
Summary: "The success of a theatre company comes down to providing good yarns that make audiences laugh and cry, and which take them on a journey" - Sandra Bates Sandra Bates retired as Artistic Director of The Ensemble Theatre in Sydney in 2015 after 30 years in the role. This innings makes her the longest serving Artistic Director in Australia. In fact the company has only had 3 A.D.s in its 62 year history. Sandra Bates' term followed that of the company's founder, Hayes Gordon. It was Gordon who was running acting classes that the then pharmacist Bates enrolled in, to pursue her artistic leanings. She had been an avid participant in school drama and was subsequently offered a scholarship for training in England at the end of her secondary education, but cautious parents advised a qualification and tertiary education to be essential. Theatre would be a constant call however. It was Hayes Gordon who advised Sandra that she would be an effective director. She began at The Ensemble as A.D. of the Studio's Rep.Theatre, eventually being appointed Artistic and Governing Director of the theatre in 1986. She introduced a subscription series to the company and continued to navigate a remarkable story of theatrical survival for the company who have only ever existed on box office and donations. They receive no public funding. Her extensive theatrical output includes plays by David Williamson, Emerald City and The Jack Manning Trilogy; Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks, Barry Creyton's Double Act, Miller's Death of a Salesman and her final show at the theatre, Neil Simon's The Good Doctor. She has relished making theatre and telling stories; and in doing so, has affected the lives of audience members in immeasurable ways. Sandra is thrilled with retirement. It was a delight to meet this theatrical elder and to be taken on her incredible journey in this episode of Stages.