In the spotlight: amateur dramatics

Chesterfield Theatre Company performing 'Relatively Speaking' play on stage

Waiting patiently in the wings, my heart hammering in my chest, my palms sweaty… then I step out onto the stage. The moment has arrived. It’s showtime.

Chesterfield Theatre Company performing 'Relatively Speaking' play on stageI’ve been part of Chesterfield Theatre Company, an amazing team of talented, committed amateur thespians for 20 years now. And I love it.

Because whatever your talents there will always be a role for you, whether it’s acting, directing, stage building, stage hand, costume, props or stage managing. Everyone is important and the show can’t go on without each person playing their role.

Making friends and being part of a team

Being part of such a society is also a great way of making new friends, as you all need to work together.  I don’t know any other part of my life where rapport and teamwork is so crucial. For me, it has an added bonus as I met my husband at the Chesterfield Theatre Company!

So many times I’ve heard people say they’d love to try acting, but wouldn’t dare go on stage. But every amateur actor – and I suspect many professionals too – will have at some point experienced that dreadful moment when they can’t remember the next line. A line they never forgot in rehearsals.

But your fellow team members are on hand to help, the prompt who has been closely following the script throughout or a quick-thinking fellow actor who feeds you your line. That’s teamwork!

And taking part in amateur dramatics can be a huge boost to your self esteem. I joined the society after returning home from university and struggling to get a job. Being part of a theatre production increased my confidence and was great experience to put on my CV.

It’s great escapism, too. While you’re rehearsing and during the production, you can forget about real life and immerse yourself in your role.

Rehearsals can be great fun. No matter how dramatic the play, there will always be moments of corpsing – that’s the theatrical term for unintentionally breaking character by laughing!

It’s not all about being the big star, either. Although it’s very rewarding playing the main character, I like the smaller roles, as there’s more time to develop the character. At the moment, I’m really enjoying playing a maid in ‘Death by Design’.  Think Peggy from Hi-de-hi set in the 1920s with some great one liners.

There’s no denying that being part of a production can be hard work, though, as putting on a play requires dedication and commitment. Our society rehearses twice a week, which can increase to three nearer the performance. And the week of the play means a six-day commitment, with between three and five performances as well as dress rehearsals.

But to hear an appreciative audience, laughing in all the right places and clapping at the end, makes all the hard work worthwhile.

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 20.16.31If you’ve been thinking of joining an amateur dramatic society but have been unsure for whatever reason, my advice is to just go for it! You don’t have to be the best actor in the world – you’ll develop your skills and learn lots from the talented individuals already there.

You can visit the amateur dramatics website, or take a look on your local noticeboards in libraries, supermarkets and community areas.

Treading the boards really is great fun… and you don’t have to break a leg in the process!

Find out more…

Chesterfield Theatre Company production of Death by Design will run from Thursday 14th April to Saturday 16th April at Rose Theatre in Chesterfield at 7.30pm.  Box office 01246 271540.

Joanne Gordon

About Joanne Gordon

I live in Chesterfield, Derbyshire. This is ideally situated on the edge of the Peak District, which is wonderful for me, as my husband Simon and I love to get out walking, running and cycling. I have also been involved with a local amateur dramatic group for the last 19 years, which is where I met my husband. My parents live close by, so I regularly see them, as well as my younger brother.