Book Review: Amateur Theatre Festival  

Organised by  Nick Hern Books

It’s some years since I trod the boards with DAODS at the Orchard in Dartford, but I was keen to join hundreds of other theatre makers at the inaugural Amateur Theatre Festival organised by Nick Hern Books at The Questors Theatre in Ealing. The day was planned to mark 30 years of NHB, and a celebration of theatre making it certainly was. With some 1.5 million regular participants in ’amateur theatre’ in the UK, NHB have certainly tapped into a vibrant and dedicated audience, if those attending the day are a reflection.

The day was really well organised, starting with a welcome address from Simon Callow and then consisted of a series of breakout workshops, covering topics such as ‘Stage Combat’, ‘Performing Shakespeare’ to ‘Producing & Marketing your own Show’.

Highlights of the day were the ‘In conversation with…’ sessions in the packed 350-seat Playhouse. Mike Bartlett gave us an insight into his writing for both theatre (King Charles III) and screen (Doctor Foster), whilst Amanda Whittington reiterated the need for more strong roles for women – one she is attempting to address through her own popular plays, such as Ladies Day and Mighty Atoms. The day culminated with a Q&A, hosted by Nick Hern himself, with the entertaining and inspiring Jez Butterworth, who gave an insight into his creative writing process, which often includes long walks with his dog, and his desire to leave a legacy of work.

Hopefully it won’t be another 30 years before the next event, so keep an eye out for announcements in the future!

Review by John Hopley