Sky Arts to offer West End dream to amateur groups

Amateur theatre companies from around the UK will compete for the chance to perform on a West End stage as part of a new series to be shown on Sky Arts.

The six-part series, which has the working title Stagestruck, will follow eight amateur companies as they rehearse and perform scenes from well-known plays under the mentorship of “industry experts from stage and screen”.

Each company will then perform their selected piece before a panel of judges, with one eventually selected as the best amateur dramatic company in the UK and given the chance to perform on the stage of a West End theatre, yet to be revealed. Stagestruck is being made by independent company Oxford Film and Television.

The production company’s creative director, Nicolas Kent, described the show as “exciting and ambitious” and said: “Stagestruck is more than a talent show, it’s a celebration of how amateur theatre can be a beating heart of communities across Britain.”

To enter the nationwide competition, amateur companies will have to upload an audition video of members performing an extract from a list of plays pre-selected by Sky Arts. These include Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest and Chekhov’s The Seagull.

From the entries, eight companies will be selected, with auditions judged on “members’ acting prowess and ability to approach the chosen work in an innovative and refreshing way”.

Although Sky Arts has not yet revealed who the mentors working with each company will be, it has promised they will be big names from the world of television and theatre.

Channel director James Hunt said: “Sky Arts wants to recognise the importance of the amateur dramatist to UK cultural life. Ian McKellen, Judi Dench and Patrick Stewart all began their illustrious careers within amateur dramatics.”

He said the series would have an emphasis on “excellence of acting, which can be found in the most unexpected of places” and added: “We hope to find amazing new talent who can put on a performance worthy of its final West End setting.”

Entries will open on May 16 and close on July 25. Full details will be available at skyarts.co.uk/theatre-drama/article/stagestruck

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