When I was training as a drama teacher the leader of our course proposed a different way to make a performance. He wanted us to put the audience on the stage and make the performance on the floor of the hall. At the time I thought this was revolutionary but quickly realised it was a wonderful solution to the problems of school halls with stages. The problem being that no one gets a good view unless they are in the first few rows. It worked very well and it was easy to put up giant screens around the action and even put some of the audience around the sides.
In Theatretrain we have always wanted to vary the places where we perform. Purpose built professional theatres are of course the best places for performing shows and in the best, everyone has a good view. They are unrivalled in their backstage space, dressing rooms and all the technical equipment. It’s also nice to be an audience member and go from the front-of-house bar and foyer into the auditorium. As the lights go down, I love the buzz of excitement. Often the curtain goes up on Theatretrain shows and the audience claps and cheers. For a long time, I couldn’t understand why our audiences were so noisy in the first number until I sat amongst them and realised, they were trying to spot their son and daughter and explaining it to each other.
But we like to think outside the box and take performance further afield. I remember our performances outdoors; twice at the Tolpuddle Festival in Dorset and twice in the Scoop near Tower Bridge as well as our flash mobs in London – including some surprised passers-by in Waterloo Station. In 2019 we toured London statues of performers with our dance piece Statuesque. I hope these unusual experiences continue – creativity in the arts takes many forms.
There are other two ambitions for us that I have yet to realise. One is to perform at the oldest theatre in the country which happens to be what you might describe as a set of ruins in a field near St Albans. We were very close to agreeing a date and had started looked for generators to hire as there was no electricity. On a summer day it would have been a great place for a picnic and a choir concert. It didn’t happen but it’s still there on the backburner.
The other ambition is to perform in a circus tent. It crossed my mind that circuses might be attracted to an extra night in a town if we could hire it from them for the night. There they do have electricity but also seats for an audience and a place for a band. Of course, the performance would be in the round but that’s not far off what we do at the Royal Albert Hall. I hope it happens one day.
Do you have a child that loves to perform and would benefit from these wonderful theatre experiences? For over 28 years Theatretrain has been leading the way in performance opportunities for young people aged 3 – 18 years. From regular performances in London’s West End and O2 Arena to the thrill of taking part in a parade at Disneyland Paris, Theatretrain really is the place to be if your child would love to be a performer. Our classes in dancing, acting, and singing provide kids with real opportunities in performing. Visit www.theatretrain.co.uk to learn more.