I thought I’d get the ball rolling as, a member of the group, and start keeping a blog. The thing is, it’s quite difficult keeping a blog when you don’t really know what you want to talk about.
So much of my life is built around the theatre, and in particular Dewsbury Arts Group, where I have been a member for more than half of my life. I think I’ll tell you about how I got involved. This seems like a good place to start to me.
I first went to the arts group in 1994 – I know, I know, that’s over 30 years since the group first started, but this is my history, not the group’s. I had decided to go to the youth classes with my brother, and they’d agreed to put us straight into the 3rd year because we were a bit older and we knew one of the people in that group. We had some great times in the youth classes with our friends, Paul, Chris, Axel, Kate, Robert, Alistair Emma and eveyone else, but my first class was a very hurried affair.
This was before the first extension (well the first I’m aware of!) when rehearsals and classes took place in the very top floor where the costume department now sits, and after being introduced to “Zip, Zap, Boing!” and “This is a Cat”, we took a quick break to fill up on sugar, then I was taken out of the class to go to my first rehearsal for a play down there.
As it happens, this wasn’t actually a Desbury Arts Group show, but one being performed by a group containing their members. 2 of whom I would go on to form a great relationship with. The group was called Dyllis, or Dyliss, depending on who you asked, a comedy sketch group who I went on to spend 15 glorious years working with. Simon (my brother) and I were going to be operating their lighting and sound – something I’d had a lot of practice at at school, and somewhere where, at the time, my passions lay.
I was soon roped into operating lighting for the next DAG play, No Way Out at the studio theatre, and from that point right up to my leaving for university, I was to be seen regularly behind the lighting desk, up a ladder, or at a set shift helping move and construct the sets as we used to at Dewsbury Little Theatre. To say I was hooked was an understatement. I attended all the youth classes, even helped set up for the annual exhibitions, and I got down and got involved wherever I could. The group had given me purpose. given me a passion. And I hadn’t even set foot on stage yet!
I was involved for 4 years before going to University, and I only appeared in one play other than the third year’s festival play, No Smoke, which David had written specifically for the group. I lit many a show, and became a permanent fixture in the lighting gallery, but I really didn’t want to set foot on the stage.
It wasn’t until my dad dragged me kicking and screaming into the role of Anthony in Sweeney Todd that I realised just what I had been missing. This was followed by numerous plays and musicals (There’s only been 1 musical at DAG that I wasn’t in since that time!) and eventually two spells on the committee.
As part of my University studies, I set up the first Dewsbury Arts Group website, and later got us moving on facebook and twitter, and my passion and enthusiasm for the group has never waned.
It gave me an opportunity to start teaching in the classes I once took as a teenager – This led to me directing the youth classes, where I wrote 3 plays. I then got the opportunity to direct a one act play on two separate occasions, A Dogs Life eventually reaching the English final of the AETF festival. I’ve even been given the opportunity to direct two of our playbill productions – Silly Cow and According to Hoyle.
From starring as a main role in a musical to selling raffle tickets at the Edwardian Pantomime, there’s so much to get involved in. So much to enjoy. There’s not a day goes by that I don’t feel glad to have got involved in this fantastic community group, and if just a handful of the other people who came here as adults, or kids feel the same, then we as a group are doing our job. We entertain, we get involved, we change lives.
Well… What started out as a bit of an account of my involvement at DAG has really turned into something quite deep. Next time, I doubt I’ll have quite so much to say! But enough about me, what do you have to say? What has DAG done for you? or for your family or friends?
Let us know, and if you’re a member and would like to start a blog of your own, get in touch too. I’m sure we’ve got a wealth of information, advice, and musings that we can share with each other.