Community theatre is an exciting project, says Belper Arts Festival stalwart

NBENBE120319c2, local writer George gunby launching a short play festival, Belper.
NBENBE120319c2, local writer George gunby launching a short play festival, Belper.

“There are no professionals or amateurs...only actors.” 
These words were spoken to me by Sarah Brigham at Derby Theatre shortly after she took up her role as artistic director. 
I had apologised as an “amateur” entering her “professional” world on behalf of Belper Arts Festival.
 It was clear from Sarah’s enthusiasm and attitude that her words were sincere and not merely platitudes.
I’m old enough to remember the halcyon days of the early eighties when the Playhouse, as it was then, was filled with a huge range of plays that, in turn, were provocative and entertaining. 
When the theatre closed it was a tragedy for Derby. 
To have that theatre in darkness was heartbreaking to a lot of people so what has been achieved in 18 months at is nothing short of remarkable. 
Every show is attracting bigger audiences and the pipeline is full of exciting and innovative theatre.
 Let’s go back to the beginning and, to paraphrase, “there are only actors”. 
Sarah Brigham’s words are coming to life through PULSE, a new play by Sally Siner that is directed by Caroline Barth, head of learning at Derby Theatre. 
Set in Derby Orb Hospital, a place that pulsates with life, death and other funny turns, the initial idea came out of a workshop that has resulted in members of the public taking part in all aspects of creating a full scale production from working behind the scenes to performing. What makes Derby Theatre truly unique is its commitment to learning through the Learning Theatre Pilot Programme. 
Included in this is a commitment to building continuous relationships with the amateur theatre community. 
With the University of Derby at its helm, Derby Theatre is building a reputation that will attract the best through the undergraduate theatre programmes and its ability to reach out to communities. That reputation has recently been acknowledged by the Arts Council with increased funding. 
Community theatre is very difficult to produce but it is also, arguably, the most exciting. 
So take yourself along to PULSE to see it at it’s best. Performances are at 7.30pm on July 31 and August 1 & 2 with a matinee at 2.30pm on August 2.
Tickets cost £12 and are available from the Box Office: 01332 593939.