never know what you can do until you try"
words of the song from "Charlie Girl" reflect the
values at the core of Side By
Side Theatre. A charitable organisation, involving adults
with and without learning disabilities, Side
By Side develops and produces inclusive theatre. The
shows, like the performers, are unique. Workshops run each week,
developing skills and encouraging the participation and artistic
ideas of members. This culminates in an annual production, which
is essentially a review consisting of mime, movement, dance,
drama, poetry and sketches, ranging from the visually dramatic
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.
ideals remain constant - to produce quality, entertaining and
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 members from the Talisman
Theatre in Kenilworth, with them performing alongside
the residents, Side By Side
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 we have been invited to perform
at a number of special events.
1992 Weston hospital closed and Side
By Side established themselves at the Royal Spa Centre
in Leamington Spa, with rehearsals each Tuesday at "The
Gap" Community Centre in Warwick.
the years audiences have increased, far beyond our initial expectations.
It seems that once someone has experienced the excitement of
a Side By Side performance
they are hooked.
2002 demand was so high that we had to turn people away, so
in 2003 we extended our run to three performances over two days.
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, our members have stepped
forward with new creativity and involvement. Side
By Side has a bright and innovative future.
2nd June 2012 Side By Side
became one of the winners of 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.
By Side has received the Award for
our work working alongside adults with learning disabilities,
developing their confidence and self-esteem through use of the
Organisations receiving the 2012 Award were 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 receives a certificate signed by The
Queen and an exclusive commemorative crystal, presented by Her
Majesty's representative, the Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire,
at a special ceremony.
The charity now has the right to use The Queen’s Award for Voluntary
Service logo on our letterhead, documents and website.
for presentation photos.
Performing Members 84
Committee Members: 9
By Side Committee:
Chair - Rod Wilkinson
Vice Chair - Penny Amis
Treasurer - Bob Teers
Company Secretary - Caroline Meyer
Artistic Director - Andy Bayliss
Marketing - Julian Wilkins
Members Secretary - Penny Holloway
Operating Guidance - Nina Godfrey
was founded to give "adults with learning disabilities"
the opportunity of developing and sharing with audiences their
performing talents. 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