The world of theatre is sometimes seen as being a bit inaccessible for those who haven’t benefited from a formal theatrical education; indeed, actors and directors are often complicit in this closing of the ranks, determined to keep amateur participation in theatre to a minimum.

However, there has long been a dedicated bunch who are trying their hardest to make all the fun of theatre available to everyone – amateur dramatists. Amateur theatre is often the butt of jokes regarding it’s quality (or lack of it) but that misses the point somewhat – amateur theatre isn’t necessarily about trying to match the quality of a professional production, but rather about building community spirit, putting on a good show and having a bit of a laugh in the process!

Amateur theatre has the power of bringing together people from all walks of life to work towards a single purpose. At it’s best, an amatuer production can foster a greater sense of community and build friendships that last a lifetime.

All of which sounds quite nice, don’t you agree? So what exactly do you need to put together your own band of community-building amatuer thespians?

Actors, Technicians, Writers

The chances are you’ve seen one of those movies and TV shows where a budding amateur puts out an appeal for fellow actors and singers and ends up with a ragtag bunch who somehow manage to pull it all together and put on the show of a lifetime.

Well, unfortunately, real life isn’t quite as easy as that but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. By generating awareness of the fact you’re creating a group, you may find that some budding actors, writers looking for a break and stage technicians looking for experience in stage lighting design will emerge.

You can generate awareness through all kinds of means; posting fliers door-to-door, taking out a small advertisement in the local newspaper, via word of mouth at community events. Basically, if you keep plugging away at it, you might find you end up with quite a considerable group!

Rehearsal Venue

It’s probably best to have this sorted before you go out and recruit fellow performers, unless you want your first few meetings to take place in your front room. If you live in a village, the local village hall is obvious choice and will often be available free of charge. For larger areas, there are usually community centres that will offer their space free of charge too.

Schools can provide a good alternative too, although usage of school drama studios will often come at a cost. However, you will usually have the benefit of such luxuries as theatre lights and stage curtains, so the investment is worth it!

A Performance Venue

While many theatre groups make a point of touring and not calling a single location their home, community is at the heart of amatuer theatre so you’ll probably find you’re reasonably restricted as to where you can perform. Again, a local school drama studio is a good option as it’ll be fitted out with all the equipment you’ll need for a performance.

Alternatively, you could make use of the local community centre but be aware that you’ll often need to provide your own equipment. You can hire out stage lighting and sound systems, but remember that the cost of doing this can soon mount up.

Something to Perform!

So you’ve got a cast, a technical team, somewhere to rehearse and somewhere to perform; now all you need is something to perform. Easy, right? Erm…

Settling on what you’re going to perform is probably the hardest part of devising an amateur performance as there really is no accounting for taste. This is the part of the process where ‘community’ really does have to come first; don’t be a dictator and put your choice to a democratic vote!

So amateur theatre; it’s a great way to build community and a great way to have an awful lot of fun. If you’ve got your eyes on starting your own amateur venture and need some equipment to get started, get in touch with PG Stage!

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