Blog post written by Erin Walcon
As the postdoctoral researcher on this project, my task can feel a bit mammoth. This research can't fully map the complex picture of amateur dramatic activity in England - the number of formal organisations extends well beyond the scope of our research, and there is so much about present practice that is invisible or off the radar.
Where to begin?
The answer, as to many big questions, I suppose, is to begin simply. There has been an enthusiastic response to the project - as Helen Nicholson has rightly pointed out, this research is long overdue. I'm so glad that some of you have already been in touch, through the online form on this website, or via our twitter account - @amateurdrama. (And do follow us on Twitter if you're keen to hear more.) This is one place where we can begin - with your interest, your thoughts, your comments.
We're beginning in other ways too. I'm also in the midst of putting together a survey for release in 2014, which will help us to fill in some of the blanks. Soon, I look forward to being able to meet with people in person, and talk to them about what involvement with amateur dramatics means.
At the moment, I'm particularly interested in time.
Leisure time is a precious thing, and amateur dramatics can eat up a huge amount of people's time and energy - yet in many cases, this time is gladly and enthusiastically spent. When I think back to my days as a board member for a local amateur dramatics group, I remember with fondness the hours spent laughing or socializing with fellow board members. I would arrive early and leave late, and not regret the loss of an evening at home in front of the telly. What was happening in that space? What was that funny blend of social and work space, freely and gladly donated?
Trying to describe this elusive memory leaves me wondering about other people's experiences of giving their time to their amateur dramatics group. What sustains your involvement over months, or years, or decades?
I'm curious about that first moment where you walked into an amateur dramatics space. What brought you there, and what keeps you there now?