Having just said goodbye to the Havant based Dynamo Youth Theatre and their musical One Pride, One People, and with the news through about Portsmouth FC, we’re feeling pretty lucky to live and work somewhere with such a fantastic community atmosphere! This Pompey spirit seems to have flooded the Kings as, this month alone, we’ve had 5,313 people through our doors to see fantastic, community-based, educational projects - something that we’re very proud of and hope continues!
Dynamo’s One Pride, One People told the story of how this Pompey Spirit held the community together during the terrible austerity after World War One. Speaking with John Gleadall, local composer and musician and one half of the writing duo behind this musical, he said that capturing and celebrating the people of Portsmouth, ‘people who really care’ was one of the aims of the show. Meticulously researched, the show was written in 2002. However, after sell out runs in both 2002 and again this January, Dynamo decided to bring it to the Kings so they could seat a bigger audience. The emphasis that Dynamo places on theatre discipline really showed. Performed by young people aged between 11 and 18, the cast had only a week to prepare for this second revival, after a 3 month gap since their performances in January. It was spectacular!
We’ve also had a couple of very successful events this month hosted by the Portsmouth Music Hub (who have just received the prestigious National Hub Innovation Award, making them the best in the country! Something we always knew...). The first was Circus Scape on 18th March, which saw 500 children from Portsmouth primary schools star in an exciting show with singers, dancers, musicians and circus performers. The show featured twelve brand new songs about the flying trapeze, fire-eaters, jugglers, acrobats and other circus skills, written especially for this event! The second was Infant Voices held on 25th March. This performance saw schools working together, with 500 year 2 children singing community songs. Headteacher Alison Spittles highlighted how much the children enjoy singing together in a choir, and that performing on our stage was amazing for them too!
Groundlings Theatre also came to visit on the 20th-22nd March. Usually based in Portsea, they bring us a show bi-annually, and this year was the turn of the classic musical Annie. The cast is built of local people, combining both amateurs and professional actors. This year lived up to expectations, managing to maintain the high standard set by their last performance with us, West Side Story.
We’ve also played host to Pieces of Eight this month, a drama piece brought to us by Portsmouth Self Advocacy Group. It was led by people with learning difficulties and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The piece was based on research undertaken by the group about 17th Century pirates, their lives at sea and their links with Portsmouth. We also hosted an exhibition of their findings which will be available at their partner museums, The National Museum of the Royal Navy and The Mary Rose Museum, for the next couple of months. For the documentary DVD, the film of this show and any other information, why not take a peak at their website www.portsmouthselfadvocacy.com?
A number of the University’s societies also appeared on our stage in March. On the 1st, we had the Gershwin musical Strike Up the Band brought to our stage by the Dramatic and Musical Society. There was plenty of talent with strong vocal and acting performances from the city’s students. They managed to pull off some comedy moments well (always tricky!) and had a very impressive live orchestra that was particularly noted by critics. The Hindu Society then treated us to Jalwa V, their fifth annual talent contest, on 6th. It was a fantastic evening of break-dancing, show choir, belly dancing, bhangra, and comedy all to raise money for charity! Then on the 27th, it was Malaysian Night, another annual event, and we had the University’s Malaysian Society. They performed Kebayan – An Untold Story to help teach people about their rich and vibrant culture.
With the range of community performances on offer, we think that this month has perfectly highlighted the range of opportunities that the Kings, and Portsmouth, can showcase. And we have absolutely loved being part of, and having the opportunity to witness, so many phenomenal home-grown talents. Want to join in?