Here's what you might gain from joining your local amateur theatre group

Amateur theatre companies don’t just need money - they need people to take part too. Victoria Hall Amateur Dramatics Society, based in Bolton, explains why more of us should get involved

There are many benefits associated with becoming involved with amateur dramatics. Those involved are not offered money for the entertainment services that they provide. This is because they truly enjoy the art of acting and want to entertain others for the sole purpose of entertaining and nothing more. Those that get involved find that they experience many benefits.

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Each of us has special talents, skills and abilities. We all need extracurricular activities or hobbies where we can use those talents, skills, and abilities. Most individuals that join amateur dramatics find there are many different opportunities available that will permit them to share a part of themselves that contributes to the group as a whole in a positive manner.

There are many individual roles within a production and it is quite likely you will find a position that is a perfect match for you, based on your past experiences and your general level of expertise. Examples of positions that you may be able to take when working with amateur dramatics include acting, artistic directing, administrative services, choreography, costume specialist, general director, lighting, marketing, playwright, producer, set design and assembly, sound, stage management, technical direction and other positions such as carpentry, electrician and painting. You will gain many benefits, including the opportunity to learn new skills.

By taking part in amateur dramatics, you will not be ridiculed for your lack of acting experience and/or training. Individuals that join these groups all have one main thing in common and that is the fact that they thoroughly enjoy the art of acting. It is not about perfection with these groups - it is about enjoyment. However, there are a few individuals who are an exception but don’t be put off. If acting is a hobby you wish to pursue, then look for a group where reputations aren’t so great.

‘It is quite likely you will find a position that is a perfect match for you’ - Market Harborough Drama Society in rehearsals for Wait Until Dark in 2018 (photo: Alison Bagley)

Great reputations mean high standards and it’s unlikely you’re given much of a chance for a long time, if at all. Look for a group that puts on shows that need a big cast to start off with. These could be musicals or panto. You will realise, after doing this, if acting is something you’ll enjoy.

You will gain almost immediate support from most groups for your love of acting and will become part of a diverse and expansive social network of individuals that enjoy the same hobbies that you enjoy. These individuals will not care how professionally that you act, sing, or even dance. They will boost your self-confidence regardless of how well you do or do not do. True success comes with effort and nothing more. These groups know, after a while, your acting, singing, dancing, and other skills will strengthen. They simply want to be a part of that progression and have fun putting on productions.

Many individuals that have low self-esteem find that they benefit in numerous ways by joining an amateur dramatics group. If you talk to the members, you will likely be surprised to know that most of them joined during challenging points in their life. They were experiencing bouts of low self-esteem and wanted to connect with others in a non-threatening manner. Being part of a group that has the same interests as you will assist in building your self-esteem.

When you become part of a group that has the ability to take a story and turn it into a stage production that is highly successful, your confidence will skyrocket. In addition to this, many people find that when they are permitted to act out as someone else for a short amount of time, it is a great emotional release that allows them to reduce the stress in their life and experience higher levels of confidence. If you want to experience higher levels of self-esteem, amateur dramatics may be perfect for you.

Many do not realise it but amateur dramatics provides a wealth of educational opportunities for those that are interested in pursuing theatre on a professional level. Despite the fact that the members of such a group are typically not paid for their services, a lot of studying and hard work is involved when it comes to creating productions. If you are interested in pursuing this type of career in the future, you will not only gain a lot of experience that will prove to be highly valuable in your career, you may be given college credit and/or work credit for your time spent in amateur dramatics.

Many individuals that become part of this type of group often find that they are offered better professional positions that include higher wages and better perks later in life. If you are not pursuing a career in the acting industry, you will still be able to gain a monumental amount of experience working productions for the stage.

If you are interested in joining an amateur dramatics team, you may be surprised to find that the work that you perform in that team will increase the amount of discipline that you have mentally and will optimise your ability to work in a team. Not only will this enhance your social skills, time management skills, and your ability to perform under pressure, it can also have many positive attributes when it comes to the workplace and other parts of your life.

Many individuals that have performed in amateur dramatics have not only optimised their personal habits and lifestyle, but have also benefited from the expertise that they gain in their professional lives. If you are interested in developing your work ethic, your time management skills, boosting your self-confidence, and joining a team of like-minded individuals that have a joy and interest in the art of acting and assembling a production, you should consider the benefits associated with amateur dramatics.

* This piece originally appeared on the society’s website (victoriahallads.com) and is reproduced with kind permission as part of The Show Must Go On, JPIMedia's campaign to support live arts venues