To mark 35 years of acta in Summer 2020, acta Founder & Artistic Director, Neil Beddow, records a series of conversations with people he has worked with, all of whom continue to work with acta today: staff, associate workers, trustees, participants & partners.
Working in community theatre is full of challenges, not the least being the constant possibility that when a play has been suggested, discussed, devised, rehearsed, and ready to present, something will happen to prevent one of the cast members performing. It doesn’t always happen; but it happens often enough.
Making theatre outdoors – I was talking with the acta team yesterday about how we can make theatre within current government advice on social distancing, and the conversation came around to using outdoor spaces for workshops and performances… read the story of acta’s outdoor shows and events.
Neil’s latest acta35 blog shining light on the Thursdays weekly open-access theatre group, for anyone free on a Thursday morning and interested in making some new theatre; thinking back to previous shows, starting back in 2012, and including The Land of Lost Things.
Memories sparked by an old participant, who joined all the way back in 1986. Neil remembers one of his favourite shows “Stowaway Spider”, and how privileged he feels to have shared these experiences with local people.
“these stories…of crowds fighting in supermarkets, anxious parents…I’m sure will be told. But more likely, it will be the stories of kindness, unselfish acts to neighbours and strangers that will be recalled and celebrated”.
Everyone has a story to tell; they just need someone to listen.
Telling untold stories throughout acta’s history, including the Sailors’ Tales show from Shirehampton and Avonmouth.
As a child in the fifties and early sixties, my first experience of theatre (apart from various roles in Nativities, of course) was the panto at the Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton. This is where I fell in love with theatre; all the magic, mystery and excitement, the way the audience buzz faded with the lights going down, the colours, the characters, the jokes, the boiled sweets hurled at the auditorium, the enjoyment of the live experience. It had a lasting effect on me…
Chasing funding has often been a struggle, despite the many reasons and benefits for the work we do. Neil Beddow, Artistic Director, recalls stories from the past 35 years and the ongoing determination to secure resources, to deliver more and better.
International networking is so much a part of acta’s practice and programme these days, but it wasn’t always the case. In fact, it all started in 2003, when I was asked by the Arts Council to attend the second International Festival of Community Theatre (now ICAF) in Rotterdam.