Spotlight on acting talent

ADULTS with learning disabilities are getting their turn in the spotlight thanks to a Gainsborough drama group.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 4th October 2012, 12:54 pm

Act Now was set up 12 years ago and has given many people who might not otherwise have set foot on a stage, an opportunity to show off their talents.

The group is run by drama teacher Joanna Gerrish at Trinity Arts Centre.

She said: “I joined a year ago and they are an amazing group, I’m very proud to be a part of it.”

“We put on two shows a year, in the summer at and at Christmas, and they get the chance to put together a storyline and say what they want to do.”

“They like adventures. The show in July was about pirates and Tarzan and Jane and explorers.”

Joanna does workshop sessions before starting to gather ideas for the next show and then putting them into a workable format.

“They are coming up with ideas now for Christmas and they want it to be on a fantasy theme, with fairies and goblins.”

“I get them to help make the set as well because that’s another creative process and makes them feel more involved.”

“We gather costumes from around and about and wherever we can.”

Joanna makes sure that everyone gets a chance to be on stage, and she sometimes joins them as well.

She is helped by David Thornley and Rebecca Lewis.

Joanna said: “I get great job satisfaction from working with them. I try to work to their individual strengths and some of them have been coming for a long time and know exactly what to do.”

She lives in Lincoln, wher she did a drama degree. She said Act Now was important socially too.

“They get to work together and get a sense of achievement from it and feel proud of themselves.”

“It also builds confidence. We have four new members who, since coming here, have started going to discos and other events elsewhere.”

Ann Knight, of Gainsborough, is Act Now’s treasurer. She got involved when her son Stephen, 48, who has Down’s Syndrome, joined the group seven years ago.

She said: “He really enjoys it because he sees his friends and it builds confidence.”

“Everyone gets the chance to be on stage and to join in.”

“It’s something they can all get involved in, even if they just get to walk on stage with a placard or something.”

Act Now has 26 members, ranging in age from 30 to mid-60s.

But they are keen to attract younger people and would consider setting up a second group if enough joined.

They also need more volunteers to help with the running of the group, which has to find its own funding.

Ann, who also helps to run the Wednesday Club in Gainsborough for adults with learning disabilities, said: “We need young people to join as members but we also need more young people helping out as well.”

“There isn’t much in Gainsborough for adults with learning disabilities so Act Now is really important.”

Members pay £1 for the Monday night sessions, which run from 6pm-8pm.

For more information call 01427 610237.