Harry’s Blog: Amateur dramatics making a scene in Harlow

Communities / Sun 27th Apr 2014 at 05:22pm

Blog-post by Harry Tennison

THEY say that the main difference between amateur and professional theatre is that professionals rehearse for days and play for months, whilst amateurs rehearse for months and play for days. In Harlow, we are blessed with two excellent amateur dramatic companies in the Moot House Players and the Harlow Theatre Company.

MHP are based at Moot Hall in The Stow. The company have run an unbroken run since 1953 which quite frankly boggles my mind! I was lucky enough to have been cast in the role of Algernon for their most recent production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, and thoroughly enjoyed my experience. What, in my opinion, makes this company an excellent one to be a part of is the mixture of youth and experience; our play had fairly young cast, however it was the knowledge and experience of some of the older members of the company which drove the directorial, technical and backstage teams to a superb tour de force which was one of the most successful of recent years.

I, admittedly, do not know as much of Harlow Theatre Company (HTC) as I would like to. However it pleases me seeing Jim Thompson religiously tweet about the company. They recently held a one act play festival, allowing the new work of some company members to be exhibited. This is particularly exciting as it shows that the creative juices of Harlow’s thespians is by no means dried up, and I am very disappointed I have not been able to go down to watch-however I have heard very good things!

It is this that brings me to my one wish for amateur theatre in Harlow…

Being a young person who is incredibly passionate about theatre, I naturally speak to other young people who are incredibly passionate about theatre and one thing seems to stand out amongst them. Those people who attend theatre schools and training tend to do it in Sawbridgeworth and Bishop’s Stortford. Despite this, these people live in Harlow and have done so all of their lives.

Perhaps what Harlow now needs, after having two very established and successful theatre companies for many years, is a new, affordable theatre company which specialises in youth theatre. We do have Rare Productions who appear every now and then in the local area, however at the cost of £200 for a production in which you may only feature as Rebel #4 deters many a want-to-be Jude Law or Judi Dench. I was very lucky to have the opportunity to be a part of Earnest, but I would love to see more young people in our town have this amazing opportunity.

Not only that, but just think of the ideas which could be produced! The town is filled with people studying drama, graphic designs, business, music, technology, literature and a whole host of other things. Imagine if we put these great minds together, what we could come up with.

Frantic Assembly, the innovative physical theatre company, have brought a whole new generation into theatre. Punchdrunk, the promenade and site specific specialists, have broken the rigid walls of the proscenium arch down. Could we see some young minds in Harlow form the next Kneehigh? There’s only one way to find out…

What we have in Harlow is brilliant. The Moot House Players and everyone at the Harlow Theatre Company are sensational and brilliant, but even more people want to, and should want to, be involved in theatre. So let’s let them!

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