The Power of Community Theatre

In 2023 I made a commitment to myself that I would explore acting as a hobby and possibly as a professional. I started very small, attending community theatre auditions and asking for feedback at every opportunity.

The whole thing was really inspired by my children; I wanted to show them that good things can happen if you take calculated risks, believe in yourself and put in the work. Pursuing ambitions is important, even late in life.

So in February 2023 I started hunting for opportunities locally. The only thing it would cost me is time.

I was cast in 4 plays (2 lead roles), got into a drama training program in London and secured an agent. I set out to pursue a dream and make them proud and I hope I have done that.

However, something else happened along the way. I found out that hundreds of thousands of pensioners, people living alone, come to the theatre.

According to Age UK, 1.4 million adults in the UK are lonely with a significant portion being elderly.

Community theatre is one of the few times they leave their homes and socialise. Many still dress up for the experience, incorporate dinner plans and meet up with friends.

The proportion of people aged 50 and over living in England who say they are often lonely has remained similar for at least a decade.

If we do not tackle this issue, our
ageing population means that the number of older people who are often lonely will increase to 2 million by 2026

Social activities are an essential component of successful approaches to tackling loneliness, but for many people such activities are only effective when complemented by emotional and practical support to access them.

Community theatre remains exactly that, an important and accessible social network for the elderly; that is why, even though it is not performed by professional actors; it is still vital to the fabric of villages, towns and cities.

Many amateur performing groups (drama societies) are supported by coffee mornings, bake sales, newsletters and social media exposure which all anchor elderly people into their local communities.

In truth, one of the best parts of my night after a performance is coming down to the bar and seeing men and women as old as 90 saying how much they enjoyed the show. They are so friendly and are often are moved by the show, which, as an actor, is truly all you can ask for.

It’s been a privilege to perform in this arena, particularly in The Little Theatre in Leicester.

Who knows what’s next but here’s to the audiences who attend and all of the volunteers who make it happen.