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Thoughts From The Corner

May 30, 2012

"experienced tutors"

Many moons ago, before giving one to one Theatre Studies lessons with ‘Experienced Tutors Stoke On Trent‘ this earnest blogger whiled away his time with a touring theatre company.

Before the ubiquitous march of the “i’this’s and i’that’s” the merry band of thespians that I was with used to pile into the ‘workhorse’ (that, truthfully, had seen better days) and toured the schools, social clubs and homes for the elderly of Staffordshire.

Lest you think I am veering away from the ‘All Things Educational’ ethos that this blog purports to champion, I would ask your forbearance and patience whilst this post unfolds. Day-day life with four or five or more artists, all exhibiting wonderful talents – acting, singing, dancing, juggling and more, is an education in itself. Just as the journey in Igor (the afore mentioned ‘workhorse’) itself proved to be an education in patience of all things mechanical. That wonder of British engineering, gained its name from the first production, ‘The Great Toffee Mine Adventure’. An original work created for ‘The Staffordshire Theatre-In-Education Company’ by Tony Pointon – what ever happened to him? In fact, we had to create everything required for a live performance: music, costumes, props, scenery, etc.

"home sociology lessons"

With no public purse to call upon, a touring theatre company was raised from the kernel of an idea of wanting to express ourselves in our art. Looking back that seems very idealistic – it was! However, with the right combination of people the company went on to give more than one thousand performances, over a ten year period,  in more venues than you could shake-a-stick at.

Some of the venues themselves were an education. These ranged with social clubs with purpose-built stages (and screaming kids who thought that throwing glasses of water at the cast was part of the ‘game’) to performing in the living rooms of homes for the elderly. The performance space we could just about live with but the ‘backstage’ area for costume changes and sound equipment could well be a bay window recess – ah, happy days. . .

The majority of our audiences were 5-11 year olds, although touring GCSE and ‘A’ level material such as Shakespeare and ‘An Inspector Calls’ were all part of the day’s work. This was no one to one home tuition this was full-on school halls with hundreds of excited, raucous children screaming ‘Behind you’ as the ghost threatened to whisk away the pantomime hero.

"one to one lessons"

Pantomime ghost attempting to whisk away the hero

Each and every performance was an education for all our touring troupe. One incident that was very much a one to one lesson for one cast member was the little boy on the front row who asked if the play was ‘going to be in colour or black and white’. This was his first encounter with live theatre. What an education he must have received that day!

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