Out of my Compass

I can remember exactly when I fell in love with the theatre.

I was 15, living in Small Provincial Town and studying Henry IV Part One for ‘O’ Level English literature. Our teacher arranged a trip to a theatre workshop. There were just four actors, each playing multiple roles, with only a change of hat or cloak to indicate a change of character. There was no scenery and only the simplest of lighting. It was a workshop, so some key scenes were played twice, to reveal different ways of interpreting the characters. It was magical.

Even that simple production cost a lot of money to put on, far more than the paltry sum we had paid for our tickets. I discovered that we were there courtesy of funding provided by the Arts Council.

When I moved to Sheffield I was able to continue my love affair with the theatre. The course of true love never runs smooth and I have seen some awful productions as well as some that were amazing. I was not surprised to learn that the productions (and probably the cheap student tickets that I used to buy) were heavily subsidised by the Arts Council.

Sadly there is only a very limited amount of money to go round, so some organisations are reeling from swinging cuts, including Sheffield’s very fine Compass Theatre Company.

I have very mixed feelings about this. I am bitterly disappointed that this popular and well respected theatre company will probably collapse, but part of me wonders whether the lottery ticket buying public (and let’s face it, they bankroll the Arts Council) would approve or disapprove of the projects that the Council has chosen to fund instead.

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