Friendly Bombs Theatre Company

We are a voluntary organisation funded by grants from Charities, Arts Organisations and local businesses to provide theatre activities for learning disabled members of the community. We stand outside of local authority provision and therefore have total artistic and political autonomy about the work of the company.

We are governed by a committee of interested parties and there are representatives from the learning disabled community on the management committee who also act as bank signatories on behalf of the company.

The core aim of Friendly Bombs is to provide local learning disabled people with a true sense of theatre. We always work from classic texts. We produce a piece of theatre from a play once it has been understood and reinvented by our group of actors.

The actors all have moderate learning disabilities and new members are invited to join the company for one year following attendance at an open workshop. At the open workshops we are looking for three things from potential actors: energy, definition and projection. This means we are not looking for the most confident or outgoing people, we are seeking to offer the opportunity to be part of the company to people who may benefit from working with us on producing a play.

We hope that the new members are energetic and enthusiastic about drama; they don't have to be experienced or skilled, as we will help them with that. The potential actors would also be assessed on their ability to be definitive, and able to remember and clearly define a piece of work and reproduce it. In an open workshop this is the ability to follow an instruction and copy and reproduce an action or movement for example. The final part of the initial assessment is the ability to project one's work and communicate an action to others, eventually to an audience. We are looking at this stage for people who will have a go at performing for others.

One of the important defining things about Friendly Bombs is that we are not a weekly drama club for a bit of fun. We are a theatre company and we ask members of the group to work hard. We all have fun along the way and make new friends. Working in lots of new venues around the local community we offer members the opportunity to develop in confidence. The members of the group travel with us to perform the play that we produce and are great ambassadors for the learning disability community.

We ask day centres and schools to pay for a visiting workshop from the company and this means we can pay expenses to our actors on those days. It also creates the idea that their work is a valuable commodity and others are willing to pay us to do it. The actors are asked to lead activities based on the themes of the play in the morning and in the afternoon we will perform our play for our hosts.

As well as this work we also perform our plays in local theatres in front of ticket buying regular members of the public. In doing so we are able to fund about half of the costs of running the company.

Staff Training

We currently support a team of volunteers with training in theatre skills and such issues as Protection of Vulnerable Adults.

All of the staff and volunteers have DBS checks.

Recent staff and volunteers have undertaken training courses at the Victoria and Albert Museum on the history of modern theatre as well as a course at the National Theatre on Costume making.