So where did it all begin? Well….. I’d always had a love and flare for the creative arts from such a small age, however I was first introduced to amateur theatre when I was around 8 years old, and this is when Ventnor Theatre Group took me under their wing! My neighbour, John Woodford – the islands iconic dame, was my ‘theatre dad’ and took me to my very first rehearsals, and from then on I have been well and truly hooked.
During school I came to realise that the theatre world is such a tough industry and that although my dream was to be on stage, I should follow my design and artistic qualifications for my career… but ironically things turned out differently. Who knew that I would land myself in the entertainment industry professionally and make a successful career with my ‘dream job’ – on the Isle of Wight!!! Funny how life pans out isn’t it…
So I literally live and breathe theatre.. with my day job directing and producing events and entertainment, and in my spare time directing and producing entertainment! You name a discipline and I’ve probably been involved in staging it, which is so incredible for what many people say ‘seems’ such a limited place to live.
In recent years I have been heavily involved in being behind the scenes rather than on stage, having ambitious visions and amazing support around me to enable these ideas to become a reality. What have I learnt? No idea is too big and no dream is too ambitious – you just have to work your way towards your goals with reasonable and realistic steps. If you are starting out in this world, the best thing to do is connect with as many people as possible and gain every bit of experience that you can – however random! This little island is a goldmine for creativity…The opportunities are there – you’ve just got to strive to find them!
Ventnor Theatre Group, The Island Savoyards, school and so many other societies have had a huge part to play in my development in theatre – and these are all amateur groups. The learning and progression of skills that some of these groups promote is priceless and the quality of some of the productions now staged are truly of a professional standard – all that training and fun for just a nominal membership fee – it’s incredible really!
One of the most rewarding parts about my work is that I get to introduce talented amateur performers into the world of paid theatrical work, creating a stepping stone for those budding performers into the real world of entertainment! I have had the pleasure of working with so many talents in all manner of disciplines including circus, puppeteering, dancing, singing, acting, physical theatre, lighting, sound, staging, VFX, SFX… the list goes on and on, and I’m proud to say that these amazing people have all started here! That’s why I am still as devoted as ever to amateur theatre – never forget where you come from!
Now with all this experience, I have the ability to bring productions together which are technically and visually fantastic to hundreds of thousands of people each year, and that’s all thanks to theatre on the island. Within amateur theatre, notably I have most recently directed CATS and currently working on CHICAGO with Ventnor Theatre Group – both very iconic shows with huge amounts of expectation from our loyal, supportive audiences – and so far we haven’t disappointed! I’ve also been involved with other iconic productions such as Jesus Christ Superstar, Grease, Sister Act, Little Shop of Horrors, to name a few, but now I tend to create and design bespoke productions for work and of course direct a big show every couple of years with VTG. I do miss being on stage, though!
I also hold the position of Treasurer on the VTG committee – yet another avenue of opportunity. Theatre isn’t just on stage, there are so many roles behind the scenes that you can get involved with, both creative and academic. Managing budgets, devising marketing strategies, secretarial positions, stage management, technical production….again the list goes on! I can’t stress enough the sheer amount of opportunities that theatre on the island offers.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you are wholeheartedly passionate about theatre and you have drive then you are already on your journey to being successful in our world! Things always happen for a reason and if it’s meant to be, it will be! I hope this has inspired up and coming creatives – if you have any questions at all, I’d be more than happy to give advice from an amateur and professional viewpoint!
If you would like to share an Island theatre story, to reminisce, let us know. We look forward to sharing your contributions.