'Thank You' from Side-by-Side
RW Bro Robert Vaughan, the Provincial Grand Master for Worcestershire (who has attended SbS productions, nominated Side by Side – a group of actors with learning difficulties, to receive an MCF grant. At a meeting held at the Masonic rooms in Worcester on 26 October 2017, Side by Side was presented with a cheque for £15,000 by the PGM (pictured above). Without this level of support SbS could not continue to be such a successful group – expanding the boundaries for people with learning disabilities.
As well as competing in local music and drama festivals, in June 2018 Side by Side presented 'As We Like It' at Stourbridge Town Hall (in the West Midlands). Written and developed by Director Susan Wallin MBE - and taking her inspiration from Shakespeare’s As You Like It - Susan updated the story to 1967, the 'Summer of Love'. The show featured popular music from the 1960’s including Rhythm of Life, and songs by the Beatles and the Bee Gees. This production was their biggest challenge so far, with more dialogue, and included a large portion of Shakespeare's original text. SbS were also honored to be part of the Royal Shakespeare Company Open Stages Project.
"The MCF grant was particularly helpful in enabling SbS to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival"
The MCF grant was particularly helpful in enabling SbS to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. At Edinburgh, SbS performed an extract from As We Like It (pictured above) at Paradise in Augustine's each day from 15 to 18 August. SbS actors, technical team and carers traveled by coach from Stourbridge on 12 August and returned on the 19 August. Their accommodation was at Heriot Watt University and this year they were fortunate to have a block of rooms which had better access and facilities for people with a disability.
Rosemary Kaye reporting for the Edinburgh Fringe Review (18 Aug 2018) said:
"As We Like It is a great production, and one that represents everything that the Fringe is supposed to be about; open access for all, experimentation, freedom and the idea of performing for the sheer fun of it. Shakespeare’s plays were originally staged for rowdy crowds in the Globe Theatre, but are now so often seen as something highbrow, intellectual and only for the chosen few; Side By Side sweep away our preconceptions and reclaim Shakespeare for us all."
Future Plans for 2019
Director Susan Wallin has already written the 2019 production, which is 'ROBIN HOOD AND THE TIME STONE'. Rehearsals are now underway, and cast members have visited Sherwood Forest to help them get into their roles. The show will open at Stourbridge Town Hall in June 2019.
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