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Small Theatre Groups of Nottingham

14 July 12 words: Adrian Bhagat

From A (for Actors Workshop) to Z (for Zoo Indigo)

The Actors Workshop
Formed by graduates of drama schools and The Television Workshop, as a way to continue to train and perform. They welcome budding actors of any age and experience to help work on various play performances and film projects. Check the website for audition dates.
Actors Workshop website

Arletty Theatre
Arletty combine ancient and modern theatrical techniques - masks, animation, puppetry, music – in works such as Welcome to Stinxville, a promenade pantomime shown in The Galleries of Justice. Currently working on TiG, which transposes the themes of Sophocles’ Antigone to the troubled life of a young girl in contemporary Nottingham.
Arletty Theatre website

Beeston Musical Theatre Group
Formed in 1967, BMTG perform both modern and traditional musical shows with an amateur cast, having tackled The Full Monty and Rent at the Duchess Theatre in Long Eaton over the past year. They welcome new members for both acting and backstage roles.
BMTG website

Newark-based producers of magical theatre for children who tell stories with puppets and actors. They have a number of shows in rep and tour nationally and internationally; performing in schools, mid-size theatres, community centres and rural locations. They are always looking for volunteers who share their passion for children’s theatre to help in all aspects of the company.

Bonington Players
On the verge of their fiftieth anniversary, this Gedling-based group produces three plays a year at the Bonington Theatre (inside Arnold Leisure Centre). New members always welcome regardless of skill or experience.

Based in the village of Lambley, and one of the newest small companies, it was started by David Longford, who has twenty years of experience in professional theatre. They’ll be touring Cowboy Baby, a children’s adventure set in the Wild West, this autumn, before presenting their interpretation of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (the cult B-movie sci-fi film which is regularly voted as one of the worst ever made) at the Bonington Theatre on 21 and 22 December.

Coruscate Theatre
A project which began in a school for street children in Nepal - where founders Georgia Munnion and Lori Hopkins devised theatre workshops geared towards developing life skills and encouraging academic achievement - Coruscate now works with schools in Mansfield.  They recently collaborated with the Nottingham Arts Theatre to produce a youth production of a musical, The Boy Friend, and will soon be reviving their own production of Fern and Rose.

First Floor
First Floor began when the Playhouse commissioned Home Made, a piece about migrant communities in Nottingham. They work to promote cross-cultural dialogue and to reach out to communities who may feel excluded from the arts. They have recently been touring their latest work, Mummy Mafia, a darkly comic drama about three yummy mummies who combine to drive the riff-raff from their wealthy Nottingham suburb.

The Gramophones
The Gramophones are an all-female company whose quirky, comic shows tell the stories of real but mildly eccentric characters. Their roots are in clowning and this gives their shows, for both adults and children, an extra dimension of audience interaction. Their show Anything to Declare was originally performed at Hatch:Abroad and was so well received that they took it to the Edinburgh Festival and they’re developing it further for a tour in 2013. They recently travelled from Land’s End to John O’ Groats using as many different forms of transport as possible, an experience that will be used to inspire a new show.
The Gramophones website

Hanby and Barrett
Julian Hanby is a theatre designer and stage manager, and Andy Barrett is an established playwright who, amongst much else, adapted Ibsen’s The League of Youth for the Playhouse last year. Working together, they engage with local communities to perform large scale outdoor plays about the history, culture and modern day challenges of those communities. Their next work, about Raleigh bicycles, will be performed on the Nottingham University’s Jubilee Campus in June, the site of the old factory.

Michael Pinchbeck
An experimental theatre maker, he’s recently toured The End in which he explores exits and endings in a theatrical context and is now working on a sister show, The Beginning. As well as being a co-founder of Hatch, Michael is also a more conventional playwright, penning The Ashes for Nottingham Playhouse last year. He is currently working on a new play, Bolero, which links the music’s premiere in Paris in 1928 to the Torvill and Dean 1984 Olympic victory.
Michael Pinchbeck website

New Street Theatre
Recent productions include a professional production of The Complete Works of Shakespeare (abridged) at the Lace Market Theatre and a community production of the Stephen Sondheim musical Into the Woods for the Lakeside Arts Centre. They are currently rehearsing an amateur production of Little Shop of Horrors which will be performed at the Lakeside Arts Centre in July. Artistic Director Martin Berry is also directing a performance for Nottingham’s Olympic torch relay celebrations.

Nottingham Operatic Society
Formed in 1894 and, incredibly, has performed a show every year since then. Even during the two World Wars, they managed to produce charity concerts even if a full musical show wasn’t possible. Last year they performed Fiddler on the Roof at the Theatre Royal, and this November their production of Hello Dolly will grace the stage at the Playhouse.
NOS website

Ollie Smith
Ollie is a live artist producing works which could be described as experimental theatre. His work often plays with the performer's relationship with the audience and so suits small, intimate theatre spaces and festivals. He recently collaborated with Michael Pinchbeck on The End, and is working on two new pieces: one with London-based artist Phoebe Walsh called Cat in Hell which collides Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats with Goethe's Faust, and a solo piece called 27 in which he speculates on his own rock 'n' roll death.
Ollie Smith website

Prospect Players
Originally called St Mark’s Theatre, the Prospect Players is an amateur company centred in Arnold which has been running for thirty-five years. They produce three shows a year ranging from comedies, musicals to serious dramas. Their most recent production was Ladies Down Under by local playwright Amanda Whittington. New members with an interest in theatre are welcome.

Quirksome Theatre
A company mostly comprising local college and university graduates, Quirksome produces a variety of comic dramas and encourages the development of local playwriting talent by performing rehearsed readings of works in progress with the opportunity for feedback and advice. This summer, they’ll be performing an open air Restoration comedy, The Recruiting Officer, about the sexual exploits of a pair of soldiers in Shrewsbury.

Sheep Soup
Sheep Soup is another company started by graduates of The Television Workshop, producing naturalistic comedies with a surreal edge. Last year they went to Edinburgh to perform their show The Curse of The Devil’s Verse, about a hangover that leaves people able to communicate only in rhyme. They are working on another show for this year’s festival, Mrs Green, about an old lady who grows pot and exchanges it for songs.
Sheep Soup website

Dressed identically in black, white and red, the SHRUG ladies perform site-specific works of interactive theatre, including most recently at the opening of the redeveloped Sneinton Market where Christmas wishes written by passers-by were attached to one of the ladies to produce a walking Christmas tree. Lately, the ladies have set up a new company, HandMade Theatre, which creates interactive performances for children with special needs.

Unanima Theatre
Unanima brings together adults with learning disabilities and young people to produce comic but issue-based theatre and film. The young people are mostly A-Level students at the Minster School in Southwell and the adults are referred by Southwell Care Project charity. The collaboration between the groups is quite unique and gives participants opportunities for creativity whilst breaking down barriers, something which recently helped Unanima win a second place Epic Award from Voluntary Arts England.

West Bridgford Dramatic Society
recently winning a NANDA award for their production of Henna Night, WBDS perform a range of comedies, dramas and one-act plays in their purpose built theatre on Stamford Road. Their next performance will be an evening of one-act plays in July. They welcome new members, particularly those willing to work behind the scenes.
West Bridgford Dramatic Society website

Zoo Indigo
Zoo Indigo was started by two De Montford University graduates who are now based in Nottingham. You may remember their maypole dancers outside the Playhouse during the NEAT11 festival. Their humorous, contemporary performances often deal with issues of motherhood and family. In Under the Covers, a show they have developed and performed since 2009, they get the audience to baby-sit their sleeping babies whilst they get on with the show. Their new show, Blueprint, involves the cast talking to their mothers via Skype to unearth family stories and memories.
Zoo Indigo website

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