What's On Blog

Sparkling Ashes SHOW WEEKEKEND!

Friday 2nd December 2016
The team and I all took a day off our 'other jobs' to get stuck in at the McMinn centre. All our members had individual show plans put with their costumes and on their chairs. The fridges were stocked up with bits for tomorrow's show and the lighting, sound equipment, and set were all put in ready! We had an abundance of fairly lights, tinsel trees, and snowflakes to creat a magical atmosphere, and some fabulous backdrops painted by Sara Clark from Cox the Saddler Ltd! Thank you, Sara!

The members started to arrive about 5pm and got into their costumes for Act 2 (again, as our CT's were going to leave a little earlier than the other members, we prioritised their parts!). It actually went really well. We got all the way through Act 2, everyone seemed to remember their entrances and exits that we rehearsed on Tuesday, and we were all getting familiar with our costume changes. Matt (Twanky) Lauren (Elise) and I (Estella) found a cupboard to get changed in as we all have to make quick changes into Clowns, Horses and Cows amidst our other main character roles! It was really quite amusing!

Once the CT's had left, we ran through the whole show from start to finish, just missing out the major CT bits (Snow scene and Mr MacGuffins Circus). This was really useful for us all as we really began to get a feel for the pattern of the story and our movements on and off stage. We also had one of our old mentors, Rachel Hann come in to rehearse the part of God Mother, as our lovely Jan is unable to do one of the shows. In true Rachel stylee, she watched Jan perform her 3 major scenes once each, and then got up and did them. Brilliant! Well done Rachel!

We also had some other old mentors come back into the fold to help! Georgina Cope came in for all three shows and learnt Sally's role for the final show as stage manager, Hannah Greenacre returned to chaperone and mentor all three shows with our CT's, and Vanessa Laurora spontaneously flew over to us from Germany this morning to come and chaperone and mentor the CT's too! WOW! That's the thing with Shed, you see. Once it's in your veins, it becomes a part of who you are and there is no escaping it! Hehe!

We had Greg, a photographer from SPLAAT photography, come into the Dress Rehearsals to take some snaps, and they are truly fab. They will continue to be available online if you want to get some, do let us know or you can contact them directly :D

Once rehearsals were over, it was already about 10pm. The mentors and back stage team went over the hills and through the streets of Chesham into the Arms of the General (The Generals Arms... get it??) for a pre show drink. The less said about that the better!
Saturday 3rd December 2016 - SHOW TIME, BABY!
So came the day of the show! We were all a little tired from a busy week of rehearsals and a late night last night, BUT the butterflies were creating a great atmosphere! The first show was at 1.30 and by 12.45 the tea, coffee, Twanky's hot chocolate and mulled wine and mince pies were all ready to go! Our members came in, and got into their first costumes like a well oiled machine the company was ready to go!

One thing we hadn't quite thought of, was that we had been rehearsing in the evenings, and didn't realise how much light was going to show through the blinds near the kitchen, so next time we will prepare some black our curtains we think! It still looked magical though.

We had about 50 audience members for this show, and it went so well! There were lots of laughs, and our Spider-Man act turned into a Spider-Man double Act and it was tremendous! Our Cow had a 'cow mask' fiasco which was soon sorted, but they got a lot of laughs too! I have a video of Joel and Will rehearsing the cow dance without the costume on... which I am sure will find its way onto Facebook shortly. It is too good not to share!

Our wonderful performers got lots of great feedback from the audience. The first show went so well, and we sent everyone off for a 1.30hr break before the evening show! The mentors and back stage team found somewhere to get some greasy food to repair themselves (still perhaps suffering from that tricky General).

And so came show 2!

Members back in, costumes on, tea, coffee, mulled wine, Twanky's hot chocolate, mince pies and cakes at the ready. AND and audience of almost 70!!! WOW. Sorry for those of you a the back that had to crane your necks!

We started on time, and this audience were very lively! It always makes such a difference when they respond to you :) We had a mixture of laughter and teary eyes in our audience, as we took them on a roller coaster ride of emotions in a land far away.

Our costume changes became smoother and timing better, and despite the earlier tiredness, energy was flowing. The first act went by in the blink of an eye, and we all wanted to know if the Prince was going to find Ella!

Act 2 show cases our CT's amazing talent, and emotional snowdance jerked some tears as the spirit of Ella's mother came back to help her. Our Circus got lots of laughs, it is quite a long scene with lots of lines, and they all did so tremendously well.

Our mourners carried the show as 'story tellers' the whole way through, it is tough work as they are pretty much on stage or on standby the whole show, and they really committed and did well with it. Thank you YT's and Community Theatre!

Our 2nd show came to an end, everyone looked a mixture of exhausted and proud at the same time. We sent our members off for a rest, whilst we re-set for our final show tomorrow. And of course, headed our for some Thai food with a table of 20 at 9pm! THANK YOU JASMINE THAI! You always accommodate our crazy lot, and we love you!

Sunday 4th December - FINAL SHOW, Boo Hoo!
Show time today was 2.30 and we had lots to organise before hand. We always like to to end of show thank you's for everyone involved so an important time for pre-show prep was to find a suitable hiding place for gifts and cards. That was my job. And I sucked at it, haha. They got seen within 5 minutes. Oh well!

The members arrived about 1.45pm, all feeling well rested and back on form for the shows. Our Splaat photographers were back with the display of pics taken at the dress rehearsal, they really took some fab pics and managed to get close up shots of each of our individual members.

We had another full audience, and they were even rowdier that last nights crowd which was great! We had a small blip in our circus act, which actually got lots of laughs thanks to Viv's 'styling out' and it was soon forgotten. One of the good things about show biz!

We had a great last show, and ended it with some big thanks to the McMinn centre for having us. They got up to do a speech for us and told us they would love to help us whenever we need it which is just so touching and heartwarming. As they said, charities helping charities is something special and something we need to do more of. We raised money for them in our raffle too :D So thank you to all who bought tickets and donated prizes :D

We showered the wonderful Charlotte with gifts and cake (well done for baking Harri!) to say both thank you and fair well as she leaves us to have her baby girl. She will be back haha, as i said earlier, Shed is now in her veins, there is no escaping us now hehe!

We filled 5 cars up with set, costumes, lighting, bin bags, backstage gear, tea and coffee, Xmas decorations and sound equipment and Sarah and Tony brought down their Dyson to give everywhere a good clean! It took a while but we aimed to leave the McMinn centre just how we found it. We want to be good tenants you see, so they really will have us back hehe!

For those of us left, we shared some of Charlottes cake, and reminisced on how amazing our last two weekends have been. With the Beacon Xmas fair, the Gala, and Sparkling Ashes, we have truly put our members (and ourselves) through their paces, and boy oh boy, have they all come out shining like stars.

We had the pleasure of our adult community cast joining us, whom we so hope will come back again and join us in the future - you all have Shed in your veins now too! And we have recruited many more volunteers and two new mentors for the new year.

It is now all over, and the team are making an exciting move to a new office next week at The Broadway Baptist Church! We cannot wait! So we have lots to do and prepare for before workshops start back in January.

Thank you again to all involved in finishing this term so well. Have a well deserved rest, and a very Merry Christmas.




Sparkling Ashes Dress Rehearsals - Week 6 - SHOW WEEK!

Tuesday 29th November
Today was MEGA. Viv, Sally and I headed over to the Douglas McMinn centre to see lovely Pat and Linda (thanks again for the tea, ladies!) to get the keys and start setting up the dressing rooms and performance space. By 4pm we had manoeuvred everything (costumes/props/backdrops/sound systems) into the McMinn centre and were waiting for our members to arrive with anticipation.

We were to start at the very beginning and run through twice... if we could. Now, it has to be said, we knew we were in for a long haul. Rehearsals started at 5pm, CT's left at 7, YT's at 9 and adult cast at 10pm. So, as the children's theatre were leaving first we started rehearsals with act 2, then went back to act one and did act 2 again.

I'll be honest with you... it wasn't all perfect. In fact, many bits were horrific. BUT that is show biz. That is what we expect in a new space (okay, may be some bits really should have been a bit better than that) and we push through it and stay positive because we know each and every one of our members is capable of pulling this off and we believe in them.

We had our wonderful mentor Charlotte learning how to be a sound technician on the spot, you did well girl! New role for you when you have baby in arms next year haha... you thought having a baby would mean time away from us? Nooo wwwayyyyy!!

We worked through it all with costume changes, and it was stop-start. It was super hot and then all of a sudden we were apparently in the coldest day of November that there has been in 6 years (well, that's what Facebook told me anyway) and we were all freezing again.

Then something terrible happened. We had no tea bags. NO TEA BAGS!!!!!! I know what you are thinking... why didn't we pack up and leave there and then. Well, i'll tell you why. YT dad, Tony Hann (AKA SuperTea Man) appeared with arms full of tea bags, and sugar and 2 pints of milk. Peace was restored, caffeine withdrawal symptoms (of the artistic team and mentors, of course) ceased, and rehearsal continued.

The best part of the night, was the toilet scene (i'll try not to give too much away) when we were trying to time the sound cues of the 'plopping' (hahahahaha YES, it is what you think).

It was a super tough slog, getting used to the new space and also working across workshop groups all together and sticking at it for hours on end. So seriously, well done guys. You are such hard workers it is inspiring, many people could learn a thing or two from you all.

Wednesday 30th November
So we had another full company dress tonight from 5 until 8.45pm. So a little shorter than yesterdays, and also in yet another space! The Beacon have a very exciting performance going on in the Spinney Theatre where we usually rehearse, but they put us up in their beautiful barn.... (i think we may have turfed out the mindfulness group... I feel bad about that, but THANK YOU!). We had a GREAT turn out, even though we knew everyone was as tired as we were, we went at it with full force. To say it went better than yesterdays is an understatement!!

We, again, started with Act 2 to make sure our CT's got to rehearse all their bits, and they were just fantastic. Additional lines were performed, (although a mental note to go over them again before Friday should be made here!) and dance numbers were splendiferous. Everyone, I must say, seemed on great form.

We have a relatively new member in Community Theatre, Max, who only joined us recently mid rehearsals for both Sparkling Ashes and the Gala, and he has just taken on so much so quickly and taken it in his stride and with such a great attitude, it is very motivating! Thank you for being you, Max!

We had a necessary debrief from Viv at the end of rehearsals, who told us all to keep going, keep focussed but also find the time to give ourselves a pat on the back. We have only been rehearsing for a month, and that is only a couple of hours (if that) a week! And to pull of what we have pulled off is pretty awesome. If we feel a little frazzled, it is because we have reason to be frazzled, and that's okay!!

So, stay in there team. Let's keep pushing forward. One more dress rehearsal on Friday, then it's show time!!!!!! Let's really kick off December in style and end our term on a high!!

Peace and love


Sparkling Ashes and Gala Rehearsals - Week 5

Wednesday 23rd November

Very sorry that I am missing out Tuesday this week! Unfortunately I was poorly, so was unable to go last week!

Children's Theatre Wednesdays

The artistic team filled their cards with props and costumes galore to do full rehearsals for the Gala performances!

We started with a great game of Grandmother’s cats (my personal fave as a cat lover… however my knees don’t not like me anymore). We ran all the CT scenes for sparkling ashes, and also rehearsed some brand new bits that we have for some of our members who are playing ‘Perkins’, ‘beauticians 1 and 2’, ‘Chauffeur’, ‘Crampton’, ‘The Gardener’, ‘Spiderman’ - (Yes, really, Spiderman does indeed make an appearance) and the cow! Yay. It is all coming together. It is really exciting being able to push some of our members just that little bit further with extra lines and movement pieces.

We finished this workshop with a game of ‘Fox and Rabbit’ - it is a favorite amongst our CT’s and always manages to push my ‘FitBit’ steps target over the 10,000 mark! Haha. Ah well, they keep me fit!

Youth Theatre and Gala Rehearsals

So, the costumes and props were unloaded. Members donned their waistcoats, trilbys and flapper dresses - there was a splurge gun in there too somewhere! We ran through the songs in full costume and everyone looked great! We then split up into our four performance groups to run them, and then 3 groups took turns to watch and engage with one performance group. This was a great opportunity for our members form different groups in engage with each other, and see what else will be happening around the venue on Saturday!

Well done everyone, the gala is going to be fantastic!

Saturday 26th November
The Beacon School Christmas Fair 

The clocks chimed 12.30pm and Shed descended on The Beacon School in full force!! With a speaker, a bass guitar (thanks Joe Hann!), musical instruments, shed t-shirts and lego prizes (thank you Sophie Mitchell!!) almost 20 of us when into the restaurant to prepare for our singing performance!

As we waited, there were three Beacon School Students playing Christmas carols on trumpets with two teachers, and they were FAB, they had all our members (and purple people, I must add) grooving away! Well done guys, you were truly impressive!

We then gathered in front of the audience of Beacon School goers, family and friends and sang our hearts out! We had lots of people grooving along to Celebrate and Speakeasy, they are always great for copying actions to.

At the end we had a huge round of applause, and the members were off back home to rest for a few hours before the Gala!

Myself, Sally and Viv joined George and Cathy at the Shed stall by the sports hall to see if any of the Beacon Boys had remembered the sign language we had taught them at an assembly a few weeks earlier, and SO MANY of you did!!! Well Done boys, we are thrilled! We gave away A LOT of lego prizes and maoams!


OH WOW OH WOW OH WOW! What a night! So at about 2.30pm, the artistic team, the purple people, board members, the amazing CJ and friends and family descended on Latimer Place to set up the space with lighting, props, set pieces, banners, music, PA systems, place names and table pieces, auction prizes, raffle tables, the Gangsta bank, Gangsta Snake Eyes Gambling Table, Fortune telling area, Chase the Ace, The Groove Giants area, The Wish Tree and Gift Tree Area - SO MUCH TO DO!!! And we were so shocked that by 5pm we had actually managed to complete it all, that we were positive we must have missed something. But actually - we really had done it all. And we all had an hour to get ready ourselves!

At 6.15, our members started to arrive, we gave them a quick tour and then got into position to be prepared for when the guests arrives. The guests started to arrive between 6.30 and 7pm. I was with the Gangster Gamblers at Snake Eyes - and it was a fair game for everyone. I don’t care what you say haha!

Every now and again we got a visit from the Trilby Trio who appeared to be successfully fleecing our guests of their gangster coins. I heard great things about Chase the Ace and our Speak Easy Fortune Tellers, I wish I had got round to see you all!!

Thank you so much to all our guests for getting so involved in the experiences our members had created for you. It was truly great, and lots of fun when you engaged with us!

At about 7.30pm we all gathered at the entrance to the restaurant to sing everyone through - everyone was sooo impressive that we delayed the start of the speeches as all our guests wanted to stop and enjoy the singing and dancing!!

Once all the guests were seated, our amazing and hard working and talented members were able to go home, feeling accomplished and proud of themselves. You were all incredible!

A few of our members, Leo, Jake, Joe and Rosie stayed to take part in our speeches before dinner was served. Thank you for doing that little bit extra for us, it makes all the difference when our guests can hear from you directly. After all, it is you that truly matter at The Theatre Shed.

Dinner was served, the auction was a SUCCESS raising over £7000 alone, and we were then off to enjoy the amazing music from The Groove Giants, featuring our very own, one and only, Nick J Jones! We’ve missed you man!!!

We are still waiting on the final figure regarding how much we raised, but we already know it was more than the last gala which is just incredible. Your generosity truly will help us continue to make amazing performances, and also incredible and important changes in the lives of our members.

Thank you Shed Fam. WE LOVE YOU THE MOSTEST.  
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Sparkling Ashes Rehearsals - Week 4

Tuesday 15th November

Children's Theatre Tuesdays

Today was another full-on day of rehearsals for our CT’s! We started with a warm up game involving fish, frogs and flowers! I was a frog… and my legs are still paying for it!

We performed the whole of their scenes in real time, with music. And we managed to do this twice! Which is amazing. It is really coming together and it is going to be such a special and entertaining part of the performance. The CT Tuesdays also helped us to choreograph the routine for the finale dance!

We ended the workshop with a bit of a boogie (yes…. to a Christmas song and no…. there was no pretend vomiting this time!) And some of our members stayed on for our full company rehearsals too!

Community Theatre and Rehearsal time

We start these sessions in the best way possible – with a natter and a cup of tea! We then set up the outline of our set and laid out chairs for where our audience would be. Viv gave us a brief before rehearsals start (i.e. a warning that there may be shouting, and a bit of stop/starting!) and then we cracked on from pages 44-65!

Several of our members in the adult cast have joined us from outside the Shed family, which has been wonderful for all of us. These characters include, The Baron, The King, The Godmother, Clementine, and Horatia. It is always fab to welcome new faces, and for our members to have the opportunity to work with more people from different backgrounds and of different ages. It only enriches our Shed family even further!! (Oh, and I should probably say well done to our new performers…. Welcome to the wonderful world of Shed!!)

We again managed to get through so much with everyone, and learn the finale dance routine too.  Community Theatre had a chance to run their lines with all the other cast on stage and we covered scenes we hadn’t done before. I must say I was TOTALLY shown up by our amazing members and fellow mentors who have all learnt their lines so well! I must spend more time on mine!!

As another treat, we ended our evening boogying along to the aforementioned Christmas song. Is that a groan I hear?? NEVEERRR!!! We are all pro-Christmas songs at Shed… well… at least I am. 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

Wednesday 16th November
Children's Theatre Wednesday:

And back we go to the wonderful Beacon School! The boys at the Beacon are currently having exams in the Spinney Theatre – GOOD LUCK BOYS!! But we were still able to use half the space. Change can sometimes be a bit challenging for some of our members, but everyone adapted to the slightly smaller space really well.


We started with a grand game called ‘The Bean Game’ where we all come up with different type of bean (long bean, magic bean, string bean) and then have a different action, task or saying to do with each one! Some of our members (and mentors, thank you Sarah!) came up with new one’s too like; chocolate bean (YUM) and coffee bean (you can imagine the chaos). It was a great game to get us all engaged and listening and working together.

So, this group were SO good at their snow scene, we doubled the length of it, and have written more lines! We ran the whole section, with music AND then went through both the CT Tuesday dance routine that they are joining, and then the finale dance too. After all that, we actually managed to finish with two games (Andy’s Toy Box and the Museum Game) …. The rules were… shall we say… loosely followed but as you know… at Shed pretty much anything goes and we had a great end to the workshop!

Youth Theatre and All Cast Rehearsal:

So again, in our slightly different space, everyone came in and got settled really well. Our adult cast members joined us too which was great, as they haven’t had the chance to meet all of Youth Theatre yet – and they are of course, totes amaze! (Translation: Totally amazing)

We started this workshop with a game of ‘bomb and shield’ which we now know definitely, ONLY works if you ACTUALLY pick your bomb and your shield. I’ll leave that there.

We did a ‘stagger through’ of the show. Which means we attempt to get from beginning to end of the entire show, with music/ entrances and exits so we all get more of a feel of the through story, and what comes before and after the bits we are in.

We got through the WHOLE thing bar one scene before the finale, which was amazing. It is taking shape, and I know we will be ready by show week!

I must do a shout out to Millie from CT Tuesdays who joined us for CT Wednesdays AND the all cast rehearsal. SUCH a long day for you but you represented the whole of CT so well, thank you for being there with us and being so dedicated.

Again, we ended with the finale dance routine, and a boogie woogie to our Christmas song!


Well done team, the countdown to show time continues. Can’t wait for more!!!

Sparkling Ashes Rehearsals - Week 3

Tuesday 8th November

Children's Theatre Tuesdays

So today marks 'less than a month' until our performances at the Douglas McMinn Centre! How exciting! As usual we started our workshop with a game run by our volunteer mentors which was a hoot! 

This was followed by rehearsing two of the four songs we have chosen to sing at both the Gala and the Beacon School Christmas Fair (Yes, we really ARE doing 3 things at the same time!!!). We are always so amazed when we recap things we haven't done for a few weeks and all our members have truly committed to to memory. It really shows how much they care about what they are doing! SO needless to say, the songs went REALLY well. Signs and all.

We moved straight onto our script work. CT Tuesdays are forming the circus group, so we rehearsed both the movement pieces and scripted scenes in the first act All of which went really well. We hope to have everyone off script next week, but huge kudos to our McGuffin actors for being so on the ball! And also Red Nose and Big Foot and our Horse who are already off script!

We rehearsed the final two songs for the gala and the fair, followed by a game made up by one of our members which was a bit like musical statues... but when they music stops you have to pretend to be sick. I mean.... it was an unusual game but I can't deny it was HILARIOUS and we always pride ourselves at Shed for using our members ideas so we had a huge rock out with some occasional pretend vomiting to end a very productive and successful workshop. Well done CT2's! 

Community Theatre and Rehearsal time.

This evenings rehearsals we had members of CT Tuesdays, Community Theatre, Youth Theatre AND our community cast members join us for a run through of all of Act 1! It went SO well, and so many of us have managed to learn our lines or at least be really familiar with the script, so it became much easier to get a feel for the story line, the comedy of it and also to play around with our lines a bit more. 

We also learnt a big group dance piece which we always love, i mean... what's not to love about having a big party with Shed?? 

Viv had us all working hard at speeding up our lines to make the scenes flow better and keep the energy up. And now our task is to focus on our costumes! 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

Wednesday 9th November

A number of us got together with the artistic team to finish painting our wonderful scenery and Gala props designed by the talented CJ who also designed the Set and Props or Lifted. We were lucky enough to have Natalie Fox, a stage manager based in Letchworth come and help us out with her skills for some of the more intricate paint work that we were all to scared to do haha! And of course Sal Alford, who is hands on with her artistic vision whenever we need it! Thank you so much team!!

Children's Theatre Wednesday:

We fly over to the Beacon for our Wednesday workshops. I actually managed to sneak off to the costume departments with Katie Turrell, the school librarian who let us run wild amongst all Aladdin's cave of costumes and accessories! They have been SO generous and let us use whatever we need for both the Gala and Sparkling Ashes, everyone is going to look awesome!

We started the workshops with a warm up and a recap of the songs for the Gala, and then cracked on with rehearsals for Sparkling Ashes. This group make up the 'snow' characters but also need to know the Circus and Ball routines, so there is a lot for them to learn, and they are doing tremendously! This group has grown in size considerably since the start of the academic year, and we are loving it. So much energy, creativity and fun!

We have two very new members who have settled in SO well (only their second workshop) and have already learnt pieces for the show! Well done guys!

We didn't do the 'party and then vomit' game, but we did play a great 'Stuck in the Mud but Freeze in a Funny Position Mirror' game..... i'd explain but .... you should just come a long and play it with us!

Youth Theatre:

Our youth members had looooads to do today. We started with songs and a recap of the performances for the Gala, then straight into a run through of Act 1 AND then Act 2, AND learning the 2 additional movement/dance sequences for the full cast sections. We have another member in this group who only started last week and has jumped in with both feet which we have HUGE appreciation for! Go team!

As you can imagine, the 2 hours went super fast! We also got them to try on the costumes that we have borrowed from the Beacon - Thank you Katie- and the 'Prince' and 'Dan' look amazing!! As do our Charleston dancers for the Gala! We cannot wait for you to see them all.