Community take on theatre to initiate a conversation between

Community Theatre Essay.


What is community theatre? Community theatre is a brand of
theatre to benefit the community, from sparking social change and creating hope
for the masses as well as educating, entertaining and informing people about
certain issues in the community as well as the world. Two practioners who are
influential in community theatre are Joan Littlewood and Augusto Boal. Joan
Littlewood took more of a satiric take on the issues in the world, thus coining
the comedic performance of “What a lovely war” which explored war in a
light-hearted manner as it was a serious topic that scared many people. Augusto
Boal used more serious techniques to explore the same topics, using the art of
oppression. Boal coined the phrase “Spect-actor” which is where the audience
could become involved with the performance by getting involved and changing the
scene to assist the actor being oppressed.

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The two community arts companies I have decided to
investigate are, Highfields School Musical Theatre Club and Essential Energy, I
feel as if these two companies are heavily contrasted as Highfields School
Musical Theatre Club is based in a school and made up of students in full-time
education of ages from 12-18 with people with a range of experiences all
working as a community. HSMTC uses well known musical theatre numbers for
entertainment purposes and not so much to strike social change although, the
musicals they often perform are of high standard and some more risqué than
others ranging from “Honk” to “Little Shop Of Horrors”. HSMTC hope to strike a
conversation between audience members but not to result in arguments but more
praise and opinion based debates between the audience members and that’s how I
think HSMTC links in some ways to Joan Littlewood as she used her satiric take
on theatre to initiate a conversation between the spectators which, is what
HSMTC sets out to do. HSMTC also donates some of the proceedings of the Evening
of Theatre to local charities as well as partially funding the next years
musical. HSMTC always perform in the school hall but have been known to
showcase little snippets at presentation evenings and even open-mics. HSMTC
always performs to primary school children from around the area free of charge,
for the younger children to get a chance to see a high quality show built from
the ground up starring some people they may have even gone to school with. This
also shows diversity though not typical of the social construct, it shows
diversity in audience for the actual performers as you don’t know how others
will react to the performance. HSMTC has a range of audience members and caters
for the older generations also people with disabilities all so they can have a
good time and enjoy the show and hopefully inspire people to take part in the
years to come. HSMTC always performs musical theatre based quantities, ranging
from full shows to just singular musical numbers from a range of Broadway and
west end shows. Although essential energy also perform musical theatre based
quantities they also have a strong dance element to all their shows having
separate dance troupes to open their shows, EE specialise in offering a wide
variety of dance and theatre classes suitable for all ages and capabilities.
They have several dance types available ranging from ballet and cheerleading to
street dance and jazz. Essential energy often perform at the Pomegranate
Theatre, at the moment they are working on the production of Shrek the Musical,
EE use more comedic forms of theatre as well as more serious forms just like
Boal, although not using oppression theatre, they cover more serious topics
ranging from diversity to equality and all subliminally through the art of
musical theatre an example of this is made in Dagenham and Hairspray. EE
explores many different aspects of theatre, from comedia to surrealism.
Although EE is more known for their dancing, theatre is also a big part of the
company and many of the participants do both dancing and musical theatre. EE is
an all inclusive company which creates magical experiences for audiences of all
ages, capabilities and backgrounds. EE also perform at the HSMTC’s Evening of
theatre which is how the two companies are contrast yet linked. EE practices at
Highfields school in the dance studio studying technique, poise and dedication
to become a dancer, EE attempts to train young people to become triple threats
to go on to study performing arts etc. Community theatre is a big part of EE as
they perform all around Derbyshire and have dance troupes go to competitions
and meets to gain praise for the company. It is run by Dawn Aldred who is known
as the principal and tutors people for acting, singing and dancing based exams
to assist members of the community as well as create a better quality show for
audience members.


To conclude, I believe that work from both companies is of
high quality and a joy to watch. Having taken part in 5 productions and 8
Evenings of theatre with HSMTC I can say that it is of very high standard and
is highly praised within the community ranging from old to young it is highly
sort after to take part. I have also watched 2 productions of EE and thoroughly
enjoyed my time there and felt included and well looked after. EE creates a
show you could take home to your mother, almost perfect in everyway from
technique to performance as well as dabbling in multiple genres, HSMTC is a
show that could be seen as being a bit rough around the edges yet thoroughly
enjoyable to take part in as well as watch. HSMTC creates a family friendly
musical experience using the one genre of performing arts but taking it into
another dimension through set and physical theatre. There are many techniques
we could incorporate into our project from the physical theatre aspects of
HSMTC and the intricate choreography of EE as well as the musicality from both
to please all audiences. I would happily get more involved in these types of
theatre which could hopefully lead to a long and prosperous career doing
something I love. Thankyou for listening to my arguments and observations about
community theatre mull it over and decide if it’s what you want to do. (P.S I
know you want to do theatre otherwise you wouldn’t be teaching us I just liked
it as a closing statement, hope you enjoy my essay.)

Cassidy Grace Jones