Hope Mill Theater Play Book Club celebrates its third anniversary

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The Hope Mill Theater Play Reading Club celebrated its third anniversary after growing stronger over the past year, providing theatergoers with a way to connect during the ongoing pandemic.

Created in early 2017, the reception group, which meets from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the last Friday of each month, now has more than 40 participants, who enjoy reading a play together.

Attendees read a wide variety of different plays from different playwrights, from William Shakespeare to Arthur Miller and everything from adaptations to new plays from Manchester-based writers.

Open to professional and non-professional performers, the group is a positive way for people to meet, enjoy the culture and make new friends.

Before the current Covid-19 pandemic, the group would meet in the theater and have tea and coffee before sitting down and reading a play. When Hope Mill was forced to shut down in March 2020, the theater brought the group online and, since last March, has been meeting monthly via Zoom.

In 2020, the Ancoats site also introduced its Play Reading Club to the wider community and hosted a session with charities Mood Swings and Mary and Joseph House allowing their users to participate in a safe and fun way – something something the site plans to repeat in the future with other local charities.

Originally the venue charged a small fee for the session, but thanks to a grant from I Love Manchester as well as funding from the Culture Recovery Fund, the group is now free and participants are encouraged to make a voluntary donation. ‘they wish.

Hope Mill has just appointed a new group facilitator to lead the sessions, Janelle Thompson, an actress based in Manchester, who said: “I am absolutely delighted to join the team and facilitate this wonderful long-standing project. looking forward to reading new works and seeing old favorites in a different light. “

Joseph Houston, Artistic Director of Hope Mill Theater, said: “It’s amazing how much our Play Reading Club has grown since the opening of Hope Mill. This has always been and continues to be a great asset to our organization and our charity aims to inspire, connect and challenge the local community.I am happy that we were able to keep the group going despite the pandemic and that we received funding essential to make it free for participants.

“Of course there are challenges, and not all of our users can access the group online. As soon as it is possible and safe to do so, we will once again host our live play group from the site.

“It’s amazing to see such an amazing group of people from different backgrounds, ages, races, genres and localities come together to read a range of works from the world of theater – it’s truly inspiring. You don’t have to. Be a professional actor to attend, although some attendees are. It’s about reading, listening and exploring plays, rather than acting. “

Members of the Play Reading Club explain its appeal; says Kathy Holland: “It’s a wonderful opportunity to read outside the box and try something new, while celebrating and supporting the arts” while first time Charlotte Bennett added: “I don’t haven’t tried anything like this during any of the lockdowns but I don’t know why I didn’t because it was awesome. Need more money invested in bands like this – they are amazing for mental health , socialization and people’s trust. “

The next Play Reading Club will be on Friday February 26 at 11am (on Zoom) and Our Country’s Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker. For more information on Hope Mill Theater and the Play Reading Club, visit https://hopemilltheatre.co.uk/events/hope-mill-theatres-play-reading-club.


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