I’ve been involved with amateur theatre since my student days, and these days can often be found lurking in the shadows of venues in the Leeds area.

Leeds Arts Centre

The Leeds Arts Centre is a prestigious amateur theatre company which has been based at the council-run Carriageworks Theatre in the heart of the city’s Civic Quarter since 2005.

The group stage several productions each year and I help with backstage tasks including technical work and stage management, as well as the occiasional bit of set construction.

Leeds Arts Centre is part of the Leeds Community Arts Network, which was formerly known as the Leeds Civic Arts Guild. The group was formed in around 1945, and prior to the Carriageworks Theatre opening, used to perform at the Civic Theatre – which is now the home of the Leeds City Museum.

The rare occasion when my interests in theatre and computers overlapped came in 2008, when I took on the technical aspects of Leeds Arts Centre’s production of Patrick Marber’s Closer. The process that I went through to get the chatroom scene to work on stage was subsequently documented in an article written for The WROCC. You can read a copy here, in An Audience with BBC BASIC.

Leeds Community Arts Network

The Leeds Community Arts Network, or LeedsCAN for short, is an “umbrella” organisation which champions community participation in the arts in the Leeds area. It was formerly known as the Leeds Civic Arts Guild, and several of its more long-standing member groups had links to the former Leeds Civic Theatre.

LeedsCAN is a CIO, and through Leeds Arts Centre’s membership of the organisation, I found myself becoming one of the Trustees a few years ago.

Friends of Bedlam

In my student days, I was involved with the Edinburgh University Theatre Company (or EUTC for short) and the student-run Bedlam Theatre. These days, I’m on the committee of the Friends of Bedlam: an alumni association for former members of the company, which provides support for the projects of current students.

The Bedlam Theatre is, as far as I know, still one of the few completely student-run theatres in the UK. It is managed by the EUTC, who use it to stage well over fifty productions each year and run it as a venue in the Edinburgh Fringe. As a student, most of my spare time was spent doing sound and lighting for productions, including a weekly improvised comedy show.

Other groups

The Potato Room Players were a professionally-run amateur group who performed musicals at the Leeds City Varieties. I helped them backstage with their last few productions, until they disbanded when their historic theatre closed for its long-awaited £9.2 million refurbishment in 2009.

Before I left Scotland, I was a member of the Kirkintilloch Players, based in Kirkintilloch near Glasgow. They put on several productions each year, including a pantomime at Christmas; I used to help with lighting and backstage work at their own venue, the Turret Theatre.