About Us

Side By Side is all about showing what people CAN do, not what they can't...

A 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.

A Brief History - 29 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.

At 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 in Warwick.
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.

Sadly 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.

In 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.

Side 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.

Side By Side Theatre Company
Registered Charity: 1058669

2012 Side By Side Theatre Company

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