Streatham Theatre Company
Streatham Theatre Company - putting theatre into Streatham!
Streatham Theatre Company (STC) is a not-for-profit organisation created in 2013 by a group of local residents who have a genuine passion for the performing arts. We are all volunteers and enthusiastic amateurs. Our yearly membership fee is £10 and for this members can participate in any show or workshop at no extra cost. Our members include actors, directors, producers, writers, technicians and supporters. We are governed by a constitution and produce formal accounts at our AGM where members elect a committee, which meets regularly to decide our affairs.
STC aims to celebrate local creative talent and to create opportunities for local people to gain real-life theatre experience and practical skills across all aspects of stagecraft, including writing, directing, set design, lighting, sound, costume and make-up, as well as acting.
The group is open to anyone 18 or over - theatre novices, professionals and all stages in-between. Our patrons are David Harewood and Baron Grade of Yarmouth. For many of our members it is their first experience of theatre since school, and they relish the creative freedom we offer. We are always keen to respond to members’ creative ideas.
Since our launch in April 2013 we have performed 11 shows and run 41 workshops. Our audience to date is approaching 1,500. A family audience of 300 enjoyed our most successful show, the pantomime ‘Cinderella’ in February 2014. We seem to specialise in shows with direct relevance to Streatham and its local residents and devise some of these shows ourselves.
In April 2014 a group of our members devised the show ‘Playing with Sugar’, performed to celebrate the reopening of Streatham Library. The show was based around memories of life in Streatham told to us by residents past and present.
Our latest show, set for performance in September 2016, is the Streatham premiere of the Ray Cooney farce, ‘Run for Your Wife’, featuring a taxi driver leading a double life with wives in Streatham and Wimbledon
Not all of our shows involve learning lines. Earlier this year, rehearsed readings of ‘Breaking the Code’ by Hugh Whitemore and 6 of the Alan Bennett’s ‘Talking Heads’ monologues enabled actors to shine on stage without the stress of learning lines. In particular, ‘Talking Heads’ allowed two of our older members to deliver stellar performances. Budding directors also benefitted, as each monologue was directed by a different director, in some cases new to the role.
As well as our shows, we also host a programme of monthly workshops and masterclasses on all artistic and technical aspects of stagecraft. These are free to members and open to non-members on payment of a fee. Events to date include theatre trips, back stage tours, readings of future productions, and workshops on costume, directing, stand-up comedy and choreography led by local experts who donate their time and effort.
How would this funding have an impact on your community?
We want to use the Grassroots Giving grant to fund a 10 to 12 week Introduction to Acting course, to extend the current offer of STC. The course would be taught by Mhairi Grealis, a local professional drama practitioner, who has a wealth of experience in teaching drama to beginners, as well as playwriting and directing. These classes would be open to our members and also to all interested adults in the wider community.
For each session, with Mhairi’s fee and venue hire, we are looking at an outlay of around £70. This would be offset by a small charge to attend the session, with a substantial discount for members. The Grassroots giving grant would be used to cover this shortfall.
There would be around 20 students per class to allow for individual attention. If we are lucky enough to be offered a grant, we will start running classes in January 2017.
The classes would be taught following the Stanislavski method (intentions, obstacles, tactics), which can be applied to any classical or modern play. Mhairi would also cover confidence on stage and commitment.
The first 5 to 6 weeks would be general theory and the final weeks would be devoted to working on scenes selected from favourite plays brought in by students in weeks 1 and 2, resulting in a short performance,. Mhairi would direct the scenes, working closely with 1 to 2 groups per week and checking in with the others doing ‘homework’.
We find that people who would like to join us and take part in shows do not always have the confidence to commit to leading or more demanding roles as they feel they have insufficient experience to shine. They prefer to take smaller parts or remain in the background of scenes. This restricts us as to the shows we can stage. We often tend to stick to simpler story-led plays and avoid the strong, classical repertoire. These classes would enable us to extend and develop our pool of actors, allowing us to improve the quality of our offering to our audience.
We also feel strongly that the skills and confidence gained in acting classes can be transferred to all walks of life and that our subsidised course will be an accessible and affordable way for local people to achieve them. We believe there is sufficient interest, and hope the initial 10 to 12 week evening course could be extended to run on a termly basis.
"STC gives opportunity to show what can be done and encourages everyone to have a go: anything can be dared in the theatre!
Hild Liptrott, member since 2013."