My knowledge of Shakespeare is limited. I studied Macbeth at school but that’s about it.
Apart from there being a storm at some point, I had no preconceived ideas about The Tempest. My expectations were high though, the two previous plays I’d been to at North West Theatre Arts Company (NWTAC) were excellent. I wasn’t disappointed.Never mind the howling wind, the amount of dialogue blew me away. There were some surprises along the way that kept the audience on its toes, as well as some very funny parts. The Arctic island really set the scene, the costumes were just right and the make-up was brilliant.
I had to admire the time and effort needed to translate the script into something that someone as dumb as me could understand. It worked because these young talented actors gave their characters life, had great confidence and were thoroughly convincing.
The theatre is one mile from my house. One mile! I have to pinch myself for not finding out about it sooner and they’ve been here for three years.As a company they’ve been around a while longer. I know this because I met Prab Singh (pictured), director and co-owner some months ago and he gave me some of the background.
“I started as a cast member at Abraham Moss Theatre and worked my way up to become the theatre manager. I loved it. Then the funding dried up so I asked if I could keep using the theatre in my own time alongside my job as an actor.
When the council closed the theatre down completely I teamed up with Mark Beaumont, who I’d met when we worked on The Witches of Eastwick, and we decided to set up our own company – quickly.
With no other space available, we held rehearsals in corridors, taking our shows, reviews and pantos on tour. The money from ticket sales went back into productions and, over time, we began to accumulate sets, props and costumes.
We were quite nomadic and it was hard.”
The route from being nomadic to landing in Moston took them from Abraham Moss, to a space at the Factory Youth Zone and then, of all places, to Harpurhey Baths.
“Our audience was loyal and our reputation grew. We had enquiries for hiring sets, props and costumes. If we didn’t have just what they wanted we had the ability to create, build or source it.”
When their time at the baths came to an abrupt end, they went in search of a new home; somewhere large enough to run classes, do rehearsals and put productions on all under one roof and it led them to 270A Lightbowne Road, Moston.
“It was big and empty. Like a blank canvass – just what Mark’s good at, visualising what can be done with a building space. I’ve been amazed at the level of interest and support. Local people turn up and just volunteer to help out.
It wasn’t part of the plan to start with but now we’re here in Moston we’d really like to stay.”
If the performances I’ve seen so far are anything to go by, I’d really like them to stay too.
… and if Shakespeare isn’t your thing, you might fancy their next project; ‘The Moviecals – Music from the Movies’. It promises to be a joyous evening of entertainment and I’m buzzing already. I’d book your seat early if I were you.
There’s more to NWTAC than meets the eye but that’s for another day. In the meantime click here for details of performances over the coming months. You can book on-line or call the box office on 0161 207 1617.
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