In a world of social media, online streaming services, and all the very latest AI technology that is constantly evolving, there is more than ever a need for amateur and community theatre in Plymouth that refuses to die, say local campaigners. 

The city’s AMDRAM community—dedicated volunteers from everything from amateur theatre, dramatics, operas, musicals, pantomime groups, and many other artistic and cultural companies—are up in arms over the lack of theatre and venue spaces to perform shows. 

Sarah James, Social Committee Member of Touchwood Theatre Company, said: “Our beloved David Bailey and Clive Jones of the former ABC Cinema, set up Touchwood in 1995 to give people of all ages the chance to act, sing, dance, and perform on stage with other like-minded amateur players.” 

“The sense of community, belonging, and sheer variety of AMDRAM theatre is a live experience, and very much living in the present.” 

“Seeing a show is an event in itself, and amateur theatre is part of the city’s heritage and culture, and we are determined to carry on with our shows, and campaign for a designated Plymouth home for all amateur groups and companies, and not just vested interest groups.”

“This is the reason we are desperately interested in the plans to re-open the city’s Athenaeum Theatre, which ticks all the boxes for a quality venue, location, parking, and all the amenities to put on a show production.”

Prepared for a fight: David Hunter and Sarah James of Touchwood Theatre Company

David Hunter, Chairman of Touchwood Theatre Company, said: “Since 1995, we have put on over 60 shows in Plymouth, giving budding performers the chance to experience live theatre, with some going on to perform in West End shows.” 

“AMDRAM theatre is estimated to be worth over £1 million to our local creative economy by spending on nights out and adding to local tourism for shows,” said Mr. Hunter.

“We have an amazing cast of 60 and are still growing all the time, but I fear that in my 73 years of local theatre in Plymouth, we are experiencing the worst times in putting on a show and the lack of venues in the city,” he said. 

“The Globe Theatre in Stonehouse is closed because of an unsafe stage, and the 300-seat Quad Theatre at Marjon Arts Centre is now also closed.” 

Adele Tremeer, Chairman, Director of (T.H.A.T) Top Hats and Tails Musical Theatre Company, said: “AMDRAM theatre in Plymouth is a nightmare at present in terms of putting on a show and lack of venues.” 

“We are desperately hoping for the re-opening of the Athenaeum Theatre, like many other companies, and will be attending their public consultations next week,” she said. 

“Many people don’t realise you have to plan a show 12 months in advance, and we are a company of 69 members and growing.” 

Sarah James, added: “Plymouth theatre is a fundamental part of our society, which is why our new slogan ‘AMDRAM AND CHILL’ is so very important if we are to keep amateur theatre for future generations.” 

“We offer a more fulfilling experience and involvement in our shows than sitting in front of a lap top, and saving Plymouth’s AMDRAM theatre – is more important than ever in getting people involved in social experiences like theatre,” she said. 

Picture courtesy of Athenaeum Theatre

Meanwhile, next week, on March 26 (12 noon) and Thursday, March 28 (6 p.m.), the Plymouth Athenaeum Theatre is holding two public meetings to update on its plans to re-open the iconic city venue.

The organisers at the Athenaeum say they will be making some special announcements and giving people the chance to ask questions about the project to re-open the theatre.

Main picture: (T.H.A.T) Top Hats and Tails Musical Theatre Company stage production

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