On a short visit to my home town of Brighton, down by the sea, which is outside of London for you theatre folk who have never stepped foot that way, I made, of an evening, a visit to my old performing haunts. The Barn Theatre, Southwick, was staging Jekyll and Hyde by React Productions. This was an amateur piece of musical theatre, however amateur, in no way, suggests not important. In fact, the very opposite end is where amateur theatre ranks on my scale of importance.
Aside from reminiscing most of the evening, it became clearly evident of just how crucial a part amateur theatre played in my own career. As a youngster, it is where I found my performers voice. I was able to swan around stage bursting with confidence, thrusting myself forwards into the limelight and nobody was going to stop me. Towards my elder teens, my ego meant it was difficult to walk through doors and my self esteem was at boiling point. However, in naivety and not ignorance, I am completely grateful for my past experiences.
Aside from the maverick lifestyle that I enjoyed whilst treading the boards, I see now how valued the experiences were for me and many alike. The basic discipline, opportunity and skills that are learnt at an amateur level are something that I’ve carried with me to this very day. Not only did it give me a chance for self-expression but also to hone my performance skills in front of an encouraging and enthusiastic audience without the critics.
Amateur theatre should take an absolute precedence in theatres today. The community outreach and facilities for learning competes with, if not betters any of the opportunities that a school drama course can offer – especially with the steady decline in specialist drama teachers.
I was thrilled to be back in a place which helped me in more ways that I can even remember and I thank the people who supported me all the way. Whatever level or standard that amateur theatre exists, it can only ever be a good thing.