Theatre@41 names rehearsal space in memory of access for all champion Sandra

Once Seen Theatre members at Theatre@41 Monkgate, York

THEATRE @41, Monkgate, York, is honouring the memory of Sandra Gilpin by re-naming its main rehearsal space after the late York philanthropist.

Room One will become The Gilpin Room in an homage to Sandra, whose life was dedicated to supporting and working with adults with learning or physical challenges.

Sandra, who died in April 2019, is remembered with great affection by Once Seen Theatre, a fully accessible theatre company, based at Theatre@41, that evolved from Sandra’s original project, York People First.

Carole and David Metcalf, who now run the company, praised Sandra as an inspirational woman who dedicated her whole career to supporting and working for others.

“We first met Sandra ten years ago and we have seen first hand what a wonderful person she was,” says Carole. “Sandra was passionate about making changes to the social system to make sure everyone was treated equally.

“As a disabled person, I feel it’s imperative to make theatre a place inclusive of people with learning and physical disabilities,” says comedian and Theatre@41 patron Rosie Jones

“All Once Seen members think about her with affection and we’re determined to keep going as a company in her memory. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before we can get back into the theatre. We look forward to working in The Gilpin Room: a very special place named after a very special woman.”

This will be the third name for this rehearsal and performance space that started life as the Infants Room when the building was used as a Sunday school.

Once Seen is one of three “associate companies” housed at the Monkgate theatre, along with Nik Briggs’s York Stage School and Robert Readman’s Pick Me Up Theatre. They help Theatre@41 to further its charitable objectives in education and accessibility in the arts.

Comedian, actress and scriptwriter Rosie Jones, settling into her new role as a Theatre@41 patron, is a firm believer in the objectives that Sandra heralded. “My main passion in life is to make media, and the arts in general, a place that is both accessible and representative of our brilliantly diverse society,” says the disability in the arts campaigner, who has cerebral palsy.

“As a disabled person, I feel it’s imperative to make theatre a place which is inclusive of people with learning and physical disabilities. Theare@41 does just that.”