The power of inclusive theatre

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In celebration of World Theatre Day (27 March), we spoke to Peter Errington, whose years in the Scouts and Gangs Shows have formed the foundation that’s led him to achieve his full potential – living out his theatre dreams.

Theatre is more than entertainment. A theatre is a space that welcomes all. It’s a place for people from all walks of life to take in stories and to tell them. It’s a place for performers and audiences alike to get out of ourselves and imagine the world from a million perspectives. 

20-year-old Peter Errington saw the power of theatre from a young age. A Scout since he was 8 years old, Peter is now thriving doing his BTEC at the Chicken Shed Theatre. The Chicken Shed Theatre believe that ‘everyone can flourish when everyone is included’. They want ‘to break down the barriers between people, and create a world without labels and where differences no longer divide.’  

Peter shares his thoughts on the role Scouts played in getting him to where he is today. 

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How did you get involved in Gang Shows?

I went to see my first Gang Show when I was in Scouts. I wanted to join when I was younger but my mum wouldn't let me until I was aged 14.

Are there any obstacles you’ve overcome through Scouts and participating in Gang Shows? 

I found it hard to join in some of the camping and trips away and expeditions in Scouts. But since I was in Explorers and my mum helped there, I have been able to take part in more things. I found it hard in the dark in the theatre at first. I found it tricky to get dressed and back on stage for different pieces for the first few shows. It still is a bit of an issue but Gang Show staff help me out.

What are some of your favourite memories from your experience in Gang Shows?

One was of them was me being Apache Rabbit and also me as Mr Happy – the best moments are when I have a part where everyone can see me dancing. I have enjoyed going to see other Gang shows and taking part in Gang show camps. Playing the games in camp is brilliant – they are amazing.

Is there a connection between participating in these shows and going on to study your BTEC at the Chicken Shed Theatre?

Yes! I was able to use all my experiences in Gang Show on my application form for the BTEC. I also had to audition for Chicken Shed and I had practice at this when auditioning for Gang Show. I also could say that I had experience of being in a large cast and learning different dance routines and songs. I also learnt about the waiting around in between rehearsal pieces and shows, the importance of learning lines and words and how to rehearse at home. Also, the need to be quiet and pay attention to the producer and director and others.

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Can you tell us a bit more about the Chicken Shed Theatre and the course you’re doing? 

Chicken Shed Theatre is a mixture of BTEC, foundation degree and degree courses, youth and children's theatres and also a professional company. Chicken Shed is an inclusive Theatre. This means that everyone is included regardless of their ability or disability. I am in year 2 of a 2-year BTEC in Performing Arts. I hope to go on to the foundation degree next year. 

I have to take part in rehearsals and productions as they are part of the course. We also have to devise our own pieces, work in small and large groups, learn dances, movements, monologues and songs. As well as do written work, such as research different types of theatre through the ages.

Are you more interested in performing on stage or producing theatre or a bit of both?

I want to perform on stage as I like acting but I have enjoyed learning about lighting and sound when I did work experience at a local theatre.

How does performing and making theatre make you feel?

It feels incredible to be on stage. To work with others is great. It is a mix of being scared and excited when I go on stage.

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Do you think Scouts has changed you in any way?

This is hard to answer as I have been in Scouts since I was 8. Gang Show has made me more confident about performing to a big audience.

What sort of things have you done through Scouts?

I have had lots of opportunities to go camping, walking and see places and meet people. I have done my Duke of Edinburgh's awards at Bronze, Silver and Gold through Scouts. I have just finished my Queens Scout award. I have done some fun things with Explorers.

What do you think theatre has the power to do?

Theatre has the power to speak as lots of people in many different ways not just as one person. For me, theatre lets me be seen by others for what I can actually do.

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