Mountaineer helps threatre climb towards financial safety with barnstorming podcast show
Cotswold resident and one of Britain’s most celebrated alpine and high-altitude climbers, Kenton Cool, has been involved in a very different ascension with his chat podcast becoming a hit.
The covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown meant that Mr Cool’s nearby theatre in Cirencester had to cancel all of its performances and look for other forms of income – and fast.
The Barn Theatre, a charity, is among many arts-based operations fighting for its life as a result of the impact of the pandemic.
Winner of the Best Fringe Theatre at the British Stage Awards 2019, it has not been slow in coming out of its corner fighting, creating a series of online shows featuring a well-known circus clown for children, political updates and programming on the issues of the day, a fitness camp, a surgery with a local celebrity GP and a now long-running feature for Mr Cool.
The vehicle, Cool Conversations has seen guests from the worlds of adventure and sport talk about their careers, lives and aspirations, something that Kenton feels has helped inspire during this difficult time and something he can attribute the success of the show to.
“We have all been stuck at home and craving the next adventure,” he said. “Whether it be reading about it, watching it or looking for it, I think Cool Conversations has fuelled people’s natural interest in what’s out there and what can be achieved.”
The show, which up to week 10 had been watched by over 50,000, was the brainchild of the mountaineer and Barn Theatre artistic director – Iwan Lewis.
Gym friends and training partners they reached out to each other to create the show that has seen guests like former track cyclist, Victoria Pendleton CBE, renowned American climber, Conrad Anker and Zimbabwean endurance man, Sean Conway.
Mr Lewis said: “They have been amazing and we have had a great reaction to them all. On week four we hosted Ant Middleton, the TV presenter and adventurer and this was our highest viewed shows and he had great interaction with Kenton and the audience.”
Mr Cool has been listening to others for years and has embraced the opportunity to host his own chat show.
He said: “My go to is Rich Roll, the ultra-endurance athlete, he has a huge following, in fact I would like him on as a guest on my show and of course the original podcast of Desert Island Discs. I also occasionally listen to American comedian and sports enthusiast - Joe Rogan. I would love to have someone like Elon Musk as a guest.
“Working alongside the team at the Barn, the guys who make everything become a reality. It’s also been wonderful reconnecting with some friends old and new and having them on as guests, but it’s being part of the barn community that has been the standout.”
The plan for the podcast is now to develop it and make it a regular fixture on The Barn Theatre listings, even when the doors eventually open and the actors return to the stage.
The Barn Theatre are continually expanding its slate of programmes and the full line up and updates can be found on its website and social media platforms.
Cool Conversations can be downloaded from YouTube, a podcast and on The Barn Theatre website and are broadcast by The Barn Theatre on Thursday evenings.
The Barn Theatre (registered charity no. 1174253), which is facing a loss of £250,000 and possible permanent closure, has launched their SAVE OUR BARN via their website and social media platforms. The theatre has also released a short vide to raise awareness of what it offers. Not Just a Theatre.