A Whirlwind of a decade – and a pledge for the future

Lancaster's Whirlwind Theatre
Lancaster's Whirlwind Theatre
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Lancaster’s Whirlwind Theatre is celebrating its exciting 10th anniversary with two fun Theatre Making groups.

The group, based at The Gregson Centre, holds a Saturday morning session for the 5-7 year olds and the 8s and overs.

There is also roleplay, craft and storytelling group for the 2-4-year-olds, on a Thursday morning, starting at the end of February.

Later on in the year there will also be a two and half week intense experience the profession Whirlwind Youth Company production for the 10 year olds and above.

Over the past decade Whirlwind Theatre has grown, and it now plans to grow to be a nationally recognised children’s theatre company.

Ten years ago it performed its first, Lancaster-based production in a blue and red striped circus tent erected in Ryelands Park, with a company of local and national professional actors, musicians, director and a whole host of enthusiastic children and community members.

Myette Godwyn said: “The wind blew, the rain came down and the coconut matting floated above a sea of mud, but the show, Toad of Toad Hall, went on regardless, Mr Ian Blower playing Toad and Mr Peter Rylands as Badger.”

The troupe then staged productions at first at Kings House, then at The Storey, then The Gregson Centre, and most recently at The Dukes DT3.

Productions have included The Light House Keepers Lunch – where the children’s playwright David Wood OBE, Whirlwind’s patron, visited the young cast; followed by The Selfish Giant; Around the Pond in 80 Days – with 
local celebrity Ife Akintunde.

Akintunde returned to play Brilliant in Brilliant the Dinosaur and Aslan in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

Whirlwind has also produced projects in Lancashire schools, been involved in youth festivals and provided workshops for community groups and for the disadvantaged.

It has also hosted workshops, with talks from Sam Kahn, a renowned stage fighting director for theatre and film; Steve Allen Jones of Spear of Destiny and The Alarm, composer for Clwyd Theatre and musical director for the National Youth Theatre of Wales; and Alistair Ganley who is Artistic Director of Cygnet Training Theatre and actor Kyle Oram.

Whirlwind has recently moved into a brand new base at Halton Mills, to house its large collection of costumes, props and scenery and now has the space to design and create better productions.

Myette Godwyn said: “Despite the recession the company has successfully battled on without mainstream arts funding and with only a small amount of project grants. It has been very hard at times.

“This is, however, similar to how many major theatre companies began. Whirlwind wants to maked theatre participation accessible to all children regardless of background or ability, and also to encourage new writing, rooted in good stories.”

E-mail enquiries@whirlwindtheatre.org.uk or see www.whirlwindtheatre.org.uk.