By Side is all about showing what people CAN do, not what they
charitable organisation, involving adults with and without learning
disabilities, Side By Side develops and produces inclusive theatre.
Each show (like the performers) is unique. Workshops run each
week, developing skills and encouraging the participation and
artistic ideas of members. This culminates in an annual production
consisting of mime, movement, dance, drama, poetry and sketches,
ranging from the visually dramatic to humorous. Side By Side
has succeeded in making its theatre exciting, fun and accessible
to all. The annual show is a delight for members and audience
alike, indeed it is the connection between performers and audience
that makes it so enjoyable. Our special approach and values
enable us to perform memorable theatre which changes perceptions.
Our ideals remain constant - to produce quality, entertaining
and inclusive theatre.
Brief History - 27 Years of Side By Side
In June 1988 our founder, Sue Teers,
was invited to start a drama course for residents at Weston
Hospital. The challenge was how to move these residents from
the audience to the other side of the footlights. The key was
involving able members to perform alongside the residents. Sue
persuaded fellow members of the Talisman Theatre in Kenilworth
to join her, and so Side By Side was born.
first we had 23 members performing to residents, friends, relations
and helpers. Since then we have grown to a company 84 strong,
with performances on film and invitations to perform at a number
of special events.
In 1992 Weston hospital closed and Side By Side re-established
themselves with performances at the Royal Spa Centre in Leamington
Spa, and rehearsals each Tuesday at "The Gap" Community Centre
Over the years audiences grew, far beyond our initial expectations
- over the three performances we now play to over 1000 people!
It seems that once someone has experienced the excitement of
a Side By Side performance they are hooked.
In 1999 the group's achievements were formally recognized when
Sue Teers, the founding member and Artistic Director, was honoured
with an MBE.
in 2006 Sue died, this was a great loss to everyone both within
Side by Side and the other theatre groups she was involved with.
Her vision and inspiration have not been lost. Our members maintain
the values we have always believed in, and our members have
stepped forward with new creativity and involvement. Side By
Side has a bright and innovative future.
June 2012 Side By Side was chosen to be awarded The Queen's
Award for Voluntary Service, the equivalent of an MBE, which
is for groups of volunteers who work in their local community
for the benefit of others. This prestigious UK National Honour
recognises outstanding voluntary contributions and sets the
national benchmark for excellence in volunteering, with the
work of those awarded being judged to be of the highest standard.
Organisations receiving the Award are selected from groups nominated
by members of the public who have been helped personally, or
witnessed the benefits of a group's work in their community.
By Side received the Award for our work working alongside adults
with learning disabilities, developing their confidence and
self-esteem through use of the performing arts. Over the years
all our performing members have benefited from working with
such a wide-ranging group of people. Our inclusive approach
allows sharing of skills, develops confidence and assertiveness
skills, whilst drawing out previously undiscovered talents.
"Labels" are shed - the emphasis is on abilities not disabilities.
Some members take on the role of mentors, discovering the rewards
that come from helping others. Through this they help to achieve
goals that were previously thought unattainable, and many close
links and friendships have developed.