AWARD-winning actress Billie Piper returned to Swindon to officially launch the Shoebox Theatre over the weekend, where she will be taking an active role as patron.

“What’s happening at the Shoebox Theatre is really, really exciting and totally appealed to me as it supports the type of work I am heavily involved in and want to champion at the moment," said Billie.

"This is the beginning of something really exciting and I think Swindon needs it.”

The launch was well attended, with guests including MP Robert Buckland, Arts Council members and the leader of Swindon Borough Council, Coun David Renard.

Attendees were given the opportunity to listen to live music by local composer Gary Bamford and to experience extracts from a theatrical adaptation of Doctor Faustus performed by Wrong Shoes Theatre Company.

Billie added: “My advice to anybody moving into the arts, is make sure that you find a creative hub, like the Shoebox, so you can be heard and express yourself.

"I know that there are loads of talented people in Swindon and they need the support that they deserve. We need to find ways to get some backing, and mine the support available.

"We need to let people know that there is a big creative scene in Swindon.”

Luke Marquez, artistic director of the Shoebox Theatre, said the theatre was originally set up by the Wrong Shoes Theatre Company arts charity to provide an affordable space for contemporary theatre and new work to be developed in Swindon.

He said: “When we were starting out as a company, there was a lack of adaptable studio theatre spaces in Swindon for smaller-scale performances and the development of experimental work.

"It was whilst searching for a venue to perform our show ‘The Gathering’ in 2015, that we found the Artsite studios, which are based in the old Post Office building in Theatre Square.

"After a successful performance and collaboration with the artists of Artsite, they offered us their gallery space to convert into a theatre, which was an amazing opportunity and a chance to create a much-needed alternative venue in Swindon.”

Since then the Shoebox has gone from strength to strength and as well as being the base for Wrong Shoes Theatre Company, it also houses training opportunities for actors, provides weekly classes for beginners, runs a community theatre company and provides an affordable space for other theatre companies and emerging artists to perform and develop their work.

Luke said: “As we develop, we want to build on what we can offer to the audiences and artists of Swindon, we want to build on our professional programme of work, engage in more outreach projects and offer young and emerging artists more opportunities to showcase and develop their talent.

"Having the support of Billie, who is at the forefront of British contemporary theatre right now, is not only invaluable to the Shoebox, it is also extremely positive for the future of theatre and culture in the town.”

For more details on the Shoebox Theatre or to find out how to get involved visit