Community Theatre Essay. What is community theatre? Community theatre is a brand oftheatre to benefit the community, from sparking social change and creating hopefor the masses as well as educating, entertaining and informing people aboutcertain issues in the community as well as the world.
Two practioners who areinfluential in community theatre are Joan Littlewood and Augusto Boal. JoanLittlewood took more of a satiric take on the issues in the world, thus coiningthe comedic performance of “What a lovely war” which explored war in alight-hearted manner as it was a serious topic that scared many people. AugustoBoal used more serious techniques to explore the same topics, using the art ofoppression. Boal coined the phrase “Spect-actor” which is where the audiencecould become involved with the performance by getting involved and changing thescene to assist the actor being oppressed. The two community arts companies I have decided toinvestigate are, Highfields School Musical Theatre Club and Essential Energy, Ifeel as if these two companies are heavily contrasted as Highfields SchoolMusical Theatre Club is based in a school and made up of students in full-timeeducation of ages from 12-18 with people with a range of experiences allworking as a community. HSMTC uses well known musical theatre numbers forentertainment purposes and not so much to strike social change although, themusicals they often perform are of high standard and some more risqué thanothers ranging from “Honk” to “Little Shop Of Horrors”. HSMTC hope to strike aconversation between audience members but not to result in arguments but morepraise and opinion based debates between the audience members and that’s how Ithink HSMTC links in some ways to Joan Littlewood as she used her satiric takeon theatre to initiate a conversation between the spectators which, is whatHSMTC sets out to do. HSMTC also donates some of the proceedings of the Eveningof Theatre to local charities as well as partially funding the next yearsmusical.
HSMTC always perform in the school hall but have been known toshowcase little snippets at presentation evenings and even open-mics. HSMTCalways 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 fromthe ground up starring some people they may have even gone to school with. Thisalso shows diversity though not typical of the social construct, it showsdiversity in audience for the actual performers as you don’t know how otherswill react to the performance. HSMTC has a range of audience members and catersfor the older generations also people with disabilities all so they can have agood time and enjoy the show and hopefully inspire people to take part in theyears to come. HSMTC always performs musical theatre based quantities, rangingfrom full shows to just singular musical numbers from a range of Broadway andwest end shows.
Although essential energy also perform musical theatre basedquantities they also have a strong dance element to all their shows havingseparate dance troupes to open their shows, EE specialise in offering a widevariety of dance and theatre classes suitable for all ages and capabilities.They have several dance types available ranging from ballet and cheerleading tostreet dance and jazz. Essential energy often perform at the PomegranateTheatre, 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 likeBoal, although not using oppression theatre, they cover more serious topicsranging from diversity to equality and all subliminally through the art ofmusical theatre an example of this is made in Dagenham and Hairspray. EEexplores many different aspects of theatre, from comedia to surrealism.Although EE is more known for their dancing, theatre is also a big part of thecompany and many of the participants do both dancing and musical theatre. EE isan all inclusive company which creates magical experiences for audiences of allages, capabilities and backgrounds. EE also perform at the HSMTC’s Evening oftheatre which is how the two companies are contrast yet linked. EE practices atHighfields school in the dance studio studying technique, poise and dedicationto become a dancer, EE attempts to train young people to become triple threatsto go on to study performing arts etc.
Community theatre is a big part of EE asthey perform all around Derbyshire and have dance troupes go to competitionsand meets to gain praise for the company. It is run by Dawn Aldred who is knownas the principal and tutors people for acting, singing and dancing based examsto assist members of the community as well as create a better quality show foraudience members. To conclude, I believe that work from both companies is ofhigh quality and a joy to watch. Having taken part in 5 productions and 8Evenings of theatre with HSMTC I can say that it is of very high standard andis highly praised within the community ranging from old to young it is highlysort after to take part.
I have also watched 2 productions of EE and thoroughlyenjoyed my time there and felt included and well looked after. EE creates ashow you could take home to your mother, almost perfect in everyway fromtechnique to performance as well as dabbling in multiple genres, HSMTC is ashow that could be seen as being a bit rough around the edges yet thoroughlyenjoyable to take part in as well as watch. HSMTC creates a family friendlymusical experience using the one genre of performing arts but taking it intoanother dimension through set and physical theatre. There are many techniqueswe could incorporate into our project from the physical theatre aspects ofHSMTC and the intricate choreography of EE as well as the musicality from bothto please all audiences. I would happily get more involved in these types oftheatre which could hopefully lead to a long and prosperous career doingsomething I love. Thankyou for listening to my arguments and observations aboutcommunity theatre mull it over and decide if it’s what you want to do. (P.S Iknow you want to do theatre otherwise you wouldn’t be teaching us I just likedit as a closing statement, hope you enjoy my essay.) Cassidy Grace Jones