Love Theatre Day may look a little different this year, but it’s more important than ever that we come together in support of our theatre-makers, producers, set designers, actors, directors, stage-runners, freelancers, audiences (the list goes on) and highlight the value of it in communities and every day life. For us at Live & Local, that’s at the heart of what we do, and talking about theatre is easy (we’d do it all day if we could)! So we’ve pulled together some little theatre anecdotes and memories from the team, looking forward to the time when we can get back out there and make more.
Sophie – Community Engagement Officer
My favourite theatre memory is going to see A Moon for the Misbegotten by Eugene O’Neill at The Old Vic, a whopping 14 years ago. From the moment the curtain went up it was clear it was going to be a special evening, the atmosphere was magical and the performances were the best I’ve ever been lucky enough to see. The play tells a tragic but beautiful story about three characters living a tough life in rural Connecticut and the production was so well-conceived, the audience were transfixed. I don’t easily feel emotional when watching a play but I certainly did on this occasion! The characters were brought to life in such a way that I really empathised with them even though their lives were so different to my own. Even now I can remember the applause at the end and standing outside the theatre saying to my friend “I don’t think I’ll see something like that again for a long time.”
Rachael – Audience Engagement Officer
Theatre has given me so much joy over the last few years, as well as the occasional tear to the eye. It continues to amaze, entertain, inspire and challenge me and I have many fond memories of theatre performances both at home in the UK and abroad. One of the best theatre shows I’ve experienced is (even) Hotter which I saw at the 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe at Bedlam Theatre. A mix of physical theatre, storytelling and dance, the two performers were so captivating (and hilarious) as they shared intimate stories and feelings about their body insecurities and their friendship with each other. A show that covered some topics often considered taboo and shared personal stories and opinions from women of all ages on a pre-recorded tape. An important and powerful show that had me laughing, crying and then dancing when the show ended with the audience getting on stage and dancing to Annie Lennox’s Walking on Broken Glass.
Dionne – Community Engagement Officer
I love theatre and count myself very lucky to have worked for the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford Upon Avon for several years. I worked in different roles in front of house, operations and in Health & Safety but always with many wonderful, talented and very passionate people. I even accidently bumped into David Tennent one evening when he was running round the “drum” in the dark – he was playing Richard II and about to make a speedy entrance. I really enjoyed many of the productions, particularly the more challenging ones, even those which left you feeling sad or dissatisfied or questioning your own actions and beliefs. Many have made me research historical events or figures, or led me to read particular books or opened the door to new music or artists. But the best thing, hands down, was the amazing informal opportunities I had to perform music with the most incredibly talented people. Outside the performances, there were lots of opportunities for staff and cast to make music and write and perform together. I even managed to sneak a few music lessons from freelance musicians. I have many wonderful memories of playing in scratch bands put together with cast members and freelance musicians to play at an end of season party or a mini-festival. These were usually put together by the younger/newer cast members keen to showcase their talents, but were open to all staff. I’ve played in bands with some seriously talented people and even a few famous names (including Adjoa Andoh, Paterson Joseph & Hugh Quarshshie). I really learnt so much from those informal experiences and I treasure the memories.
Kirsty – Company Manager
- I met my husband whilst working on the Aberystwyth Arts Centre panto 2007/8 – he was Sound Technician #1 and I was Sound Technician #2 (noise boy meets noise girl).
- Favourite theatre experience – Mametz by National Theatre Wales. It was an immersive experience show based on the Battle of Mametz Wood (WW1) in which they created trenches, no mans land etc. and the audience ‘went over the top’ of the trenches with the actors. There were explosions etc. It felt so completely realistic that I was terrified.
- First theatre experience – Panto at Porthcawl Pavillion – I went every year with my Sunday school from when I was about 5 through to 17. Our teacher booked the next year’s tickets whilst we at the show- she always got the first 4 rows. I remember the first time, staring up at the house lights waiting for them to dim with such anticipation and excitement, then the band started, house lights dimmed, curtain up, and the magic of the stage lights and set just blew my mind. I knew I loved theatre straight away.
John – Executive Director
I have so many amazing show memories from too many years of being around the business that I really struggle to pick just one. From the ‘that was fantastic’ comment by a young girl at the end of an amateur show we did at university (pretty much made up my mind then that physical geography wasn’t my future!) through Shared Experience showing how complete silence can work wonders (The Cherry orchard) and the same company also showing that virtually nothing on stage (Merchant of Venice) is just as effective as the cleverest sets, effects and lighting. Taylor’s Tickler (a regular Live & Local show) was a masterclass of how to do a one person show. Although my moment with that show was when I first saw it in The Swan at the RSC and watched the audience gradually all lean into watching him tie a fishing fly and then breathe a combined sigh of delight as he held it up on the line ‘…a Taylor’s Tickler’ – magical moment.
However I hope I am forgiven for settling on one I was involved in . . . it is still my most memorable moment and wasn’t even in a performance! It was the first tech run in the old Aston University Studio theatre in 1985 of the riot scene from a show called Hooligans by Tic Toc Theatre Company (Theatre in Coventry, Theatre of Coventry) which depicted the Heysel Stadium riot in 1985. We’d rehearsed bits . . . smoke, bangs, fights, set collapsing and a lot of very loud music (Two Tribes Go to War amongst other stuff) but this was the first attempt at stringing the ten minute sequence together. We ran it and stopped . . . it was utterly spine-tingling and we just knew we had something special and unique. We went onto the pub straight away and the show went onto a Fringe First and being filmed for TV.
Emilie – Programme Administrator
Theatre has brought me so many wonderful experiences but one that is particularly memorable is the following . . . When I was a teenager I discovered my Nan had never been to a pantomime. Apparently she’d always wanted to go but they didn’t have much money when she was young or when my mum had been little. I’d been lucky enough to be taken to several pantomimes as a child, and I’m a huge fan as they are one of the best ways of introducing young people to theatre. The following Christmas, I bought her (and me!) panto tickets and at 76 she went to her first one. It was Beauty and The Beast (one of my favourites because Belle loves books as much as I do). We were both mesmerised by the magic of the floating rose, the fabulous costumes and, of course, the obligatory innuendos. It was a memory we both treasured and apparently it had been worth the wait for her!
Connie – Marketing & Publicity Assistant
Having been involved in theatre from a young age and going on to study it at university, I have a back-catalogue of memories that I could share, but here are just two:
- My favourite production by far is one I saw at Theatr Clwyd in 2011 – Tim Baker’s musical Animal Farm (yes, musical). To this day, the simplicity of the costumes – tin cans as pigs noses and horses hooves, the talent of the actor-musicians and the way in which they executed the ending of the play lives on strongly in my memory – “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” As the lights came up, the audience looked around to realise the pigs had taken off their tin-can noses and sat in amongst them.
- Much closer to home sits the first time I saw a friend’s play at university, still in development, a little rusty, still finding its way, and a year later visiting the local theatre to a sold-out show – in a way it was a testament to the support of the drama community at uni and a wonderful conclusion to the four years I spent there.
And finally, as it’s Love Theatre Day, it seemed only right to mention to the wonderful theatres and venues used by Live & Local promoters.
Swan Theatre Worcester
Century Theatre Coalville
The Bridge House Theatre Warwick
Chilwell Arts Theatre Nottingham
Bonington Theatre Arnold Notts
Broadbent Theatre Wickenby, Lincs
Terry O’Toole Theatre North Hykeham, Lincs
No 8 Pershore
Foxlowe Arts Centre Leek