Curtain Call: Starting Up a Theatre Company

"Have you just got exactly what you wanted, by working hard and wanting it?" - Di and Viv and Rose

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The last six months have offered up a whirlwind of life lessons as I launched my theatre company, Handmade Theatre, with my best friend Georgie. They say "necessity is the birth of creativity" and this, I must admit, is how our idea became a reality. Georgie had just left drama school and I found myself in another "quiet period". Both of us sat moaning over an earl grey, early in our careers, dejected and out of work, and so we conspired to make our own. 

We had seen Di and Viv and Rose, a beautifully moving play about enduring friendship between three women, a few years earlier. It immediately sprung to mind as the perfect play and an ideal showcase for young female actors. We enlisted Louisa, a friend from drama school, and rehearsals began in our living rooms. Domenica, my sister, came into her own as our designer and stage manager. This was all new to her but she jumped in at the deep end, and her creation of our unique image has been vital in establishing our own, handmade identity. 

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We opened our show three months later at The Tea House Theatre in Vauxhall. This establishment, run by two men, who closely resemble inland pirates (in image and behaviour) was our biggest challenge. Navigating these stubborn, sarcastic gentlemen, who called us things like "little blond and big blond" or in Domenica's case just "TECH!!", nearly had me pulling my hair out but Georgie remained calm and charming and I am pleased to say that by the end of the run they locked the doors to the theatre and let us party all night long; they even joined in with the karaoke. 

The day after Georgie and I woke and wept, whilst the words "we did it!" whirled around our heads. The show's success floored us. The support from our friends, family and industry was overwhelming and unforgettable. 

Georgie and I, best friends for 16 years, flatmates for 4, and now business partners, are closer than ever. Working together has been pure joy and I will urge anyone that will listen to "go out on their own", start the company they have always wanted to, learn the guitar that is sitting in their loft, write the book they know is in them, because my god it's liberating when you do...and it is not as hard as it looks.

Visit Handmade Theatre in Edinburgh this summer at C Venues with their debut production of Di and Viv and Rose by Amelia Bullmore. tickets.edfringe.com

Words by Allegra Marland. The Iris Letter April 2018.