Corporate Work

We actually only did the three TiE pieces because schools couldn’t afford them and bodies like water companies had to draw their financial horns in (cuts to the right of them, cuts to the left of them, cuts in front of them volleyed and thundered), but that was OK because, from 2003 and for a few years thereafter, we started getting quite a lot of corporate work.

The membership of the company began to expand too. There were fewer students wanting a career in theatre and, after I retired in 2003, that source of company members dried up. Others, with whom I’d worked elsewhere, joined us and very soon the core membership of the company consisted of myself and three others, only one of whom was an ex-student of the school.

In other words, we became a fairly standard (No! Never standard!) small-scale theatre company.

The corporate jobs we did were Community (for a group of community and social workers in Sunderland), Men in Suits (for the Healthy Cities initiative of Sunderland Primary Healthcare Trust), The Disability Discrimination Act Part 4 (for Sunderland Adult and Community Learning), Succession Planning (for the St Paul Insurance Company), Workplace Stress (also for the St Paul Insurance Company at UMIST, Manchester), Transformation (for South Tyneside Municipal Borough Council, performed at the Customs House for all STMBC employees), Voices (for community and social workers in Sunderland) and The Local Area Agreement (also for South Tyneside MBC, part of a public consultation process).

Then, a few years later, we were suddenly brought back into this area for one last hurrah, You Make a Change, co-commissioned by GoWarm and Gentoo Sunderland, about energy conservation, and touring alongside the TiE piece, Sparky.

You can see that the topics tended to be a little on the—shall we say?—sober side, so we tried to use a great deal of humour to make the serious points which it was our job to get across to the audience. Men in Suits, for example, was based on the panto Aladdin and it began with Widow Twankey walking on stage staring into a hand mirror and looking very pained. She goes up to a member of the audience and thrusts it in his face.

“Who’s that?” she asks.

He answers, obviously, “It’s me.”

“Thanks goodness for that,” she said. “I thought it was me.”

And the men in suits, the villains of the piece, were Albert Banazar, Bernard Banazar, Charlie Banazar, Dennis… Well, you get the picture.

In Workplace Stress we set comic words to well-known operatic arias, in Transformation Mike Hammer made an appearance and in You Make a Change we had guest appearances of Ivy, Edie, Glenda, Pearl and the fabulous Nora Batty from Last of the Summer Wine, most played by men. I had great fun going into charity shops and saying I was looking for a Nora Batty hat—and everyone knew exactly what I was talking about! And the audience got to join in the community song, YMAC—with actions!

(Yes, of course: YMAC: You Make A Change!)

And sadly I don’t have a single photo of any of our corporate shows. And to think I once made my living as a photographer!