I’d been living in Norwich for about a week and a half when I responded to a call for extras for a play being put on by The Norwich Players at The Maddermarket Theatre.
Being at somewhat of a loose end, and wanting to get involved with something in the city, I put myself forward. I expected I’d have to show up to rehearsals a few days a week and wear a nice period costume. What I didn’t expect was to be instantly and enthusiastically accepted into a community.
The amateur theatre scene in Norwich is something special, and this is why you should think about getting involved in amateur theatre where you live.
You’ll become part of something
We are social animals, this isn’t news, but sometimes finding yourself a community is easier said than done. Amateur theatre is one of the few spaces in this world where you’ll find yourself quickly adopted by a close-knit, and yet incredibly diverse, group of people. All you really have to do is be open to their enthusiasm. You don’t have to be the life and soul to fit in, just be prepared to go along for the ride.
I made fast friends at The Maddermarket, and it’s a network that spans the creative communities of Norwich. Getting involved with amateur theatre is an excellent way to start meeting the people you share the city with.
The training opportunities
What if you want to be a part of something, but you hate the idea of taking a performing role? There’s still plenty of opportunities to get involved.
Theatres like The Maddermarket are run almost entirely by volunteers. If you want to get involved but you don’t fancy standing under the spotlight, there’s a place for you helping to run the box office or serving at the bar.
While many people find that giving their time to their community and meeting new people is reward enough, don’t overlook the potential volunteering at a local venue has to improve your employability.
If you’re struggling to get admin or bar work because you don’t have the necessary experience, a few months volunteering in these positions could make a real difference to your prospects.
By helping you forge a social network and giving you the opportunity to learn new skills, being involved with amateur theatre is a fantastic way to improve both your personal and professional confidence.
It’s as much of a commitment as you want it to be
Whether you have a lot on or not, getting involved with amateur theatre can be a big commitment. When you have a whole cast of people relying on you, signing up to star in a show isn’t something you should do lightly.
Then again, this is exactly what a lot of people love about it. It can be really full on; you can find yourself spending a great deal of time with your castmates or colleagues and constantly occupied with show preparations. It’s certainly never boring, and you’re never in it alone.
However, you don’t have to give it everything you’ve got. If you’d like to meet new people and learn some new skills, consider again volunteering with the front of house or behind the scenes teams.
The volunteer rota means you can go in as often, or as little as you’d like. I don’t have time to be in a show right now, but I do help out with by being a dresser every now and then and i’m always warmly received. It’s completely up to you whether you’d like to support local theatre a few nights a week, or whether you’d like it to take a starring role in your life.
Some people might say that amateur theatre isn’t for everyone, holding vague misconceptions of cliquery and prima donnas, but i disagree. It is for everyone. That means you too.