HandMade Theatre held their very first event in their new studio on Saturday 6 October, which I had the opportunity to attend. The company itself is based in Nottingham, and was established by friends and creative partners Amy Nicholson and Suzy Gunn in 2011. Since then, they have produced six original shows which they’ve performed in schools, theatres, and festivals across the country. The event was held at their very own studio, located at Arnold Bizspace; not necessarily the place you’d expect to find a hub of creativity. However, the team were able to transform a once industrialised space into a warm, welcoming home in just a matter of weeks.
The weather may have been bleak, but the atmosphere was friendly and exciting. The main part of the day was a performance of HandMade’s original show: Too Many Cook. Luckily, the drizzle subsided for the performance, which received a positively outstanding reaction from the audience. The silly gags about farts, and the quirky and catchy songs that accompanied were relished by children and adults alike, myself included.
Throughout the day there was a plethora of activities to enjoy, including a raffle, the opportunity to buy original art, a drawing and colouring competition, a printmaking workshop, a play area for the teeniest of punters, a chance to indulge in home-baked goods, and live music performed by Ben McElroy. There was also the Wheeze, created by Matt Marks; a musical device so intricate it even boggled my mind. The creation, which rather loudly occupied one corner of the studio, engaged audience members of all ages.
It was really lovely to see the event enjoyed by everyone; from those under ten, right up to those in their seventies, it served as a little reminder that art brings people together. HandMade seem to be able to effortlessly encapsulate that art is for all, whether you help create it or merely admire it. While the playful nature of the show is the main allure, that doesn’t mean you won’t learn a thing or two about food in the process.
I had the chance to speak to both Amy and Suzy about their thoughts on the day, and they were both pleased with the reaction. Amy said: “I think that the performance went well. It was nice to finally show our friends and family what we had been touring all over the country this summer.”
The pair are overjoyed to finally have a permanent space of their own after fifteen years of working together. “Our family open day saw the culmination of months of preparation to get our space public ready; we have had the support of family, friends and colleagues to make it happen and so the open day felt like an immense achievement for Amy and I” says Suzy. “We are so lucky to have the support of local artists as friends and as professionals; the space felt alive with creativity and fun. I hope that we can continue to offer such events in the future as well as diversifying our offer by listening to the community of artists around us and offering something for everyone.”