A #5,500 grant awarded by the Birmingham & Black Country Foundation has delivered a new era of performance opportunities for the innovative Stourbridge-based Side by Side Theatre Group.
The funding was provided by the charity to take six young disabled actors to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. During the week-long engagement, the artists presented “We are the Dreamers”, a play loosely based on Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.
The performance resulted in an invitation to participate in Mencap’s recent 60th anniversary celebrations and perform in Sweden during 2007. The theatre group is now preparing to apply for further funding from the Foundation to enable them to make the overseas trip.
The award winning Side by Side Theatre Group gives people with learning difficulties the opportunity to become involved in cultural life and reach out to a wider audience through the performing arts. All actors live in and around the Dudley Borough and attend Stourbridge College in the West Midlands.
Susan Wallin from Side by Side said: “The actors were very proud of their achievements in Edinburgh and their self worth has certainly been boosted. As a result we have noticed a definite improvement in their communication skills and confidence.
“They are eager to continue in their work and are ready to meet new challenges and opportunities that will help them to further develop their performance skills. We are indebted to the Foundation for helping us live a dream of performing at the Fringe festival and we are in the process of applying for funding to enable a further trip to be made next year!”
Derek Inman, Chief Executive of the Birmingham Foundation, added: “The performance of this group in Edinburgh has had an obvious and very positive impact on the actors, boosted by the invitation to perform elsewhere as a result. The aim of the Birmingham and Black Country Foundation is to make a difference and create opportunities for the more disadvantaged people living in our community and this was an obvious project for us to help.”