The name for Under the Headstocks community theatre company was to reflect the creator’s mining heritage. Most of the actors and writers behind the company involved have family who were connected to the industry, and founder Alan Dawson was a coal face worker.
This theatre company is rooted in the community and idea of the positive and negative aspects of living in a mining community, and its effect on the individual and identity.
Their two most recent productions reflect this passion for community-based work. Under the Headstocks’ debut show Glass Boot by Alan Dawson questioned what members of society hook onto when their community and workplace (mining) shatters like a glass boot?
Audiences packed into a small upstairs theatre which sold out two performances for Glass Boot.
Other productions by Under the Headstocks follow a similar theme, including The Last Grammar School Boy, which explored the impact of post-industrialisation on the villages of the former North Nottingham Coal fields, and Who Killed Edwina Beer?, which looked to the future and gave hope that the area can survive and flourish in a post-industrial society. Who Killed Edwina Beer? was commissioned by Clipstone Colliery Regeneration Group.
In 2014, Under the Headstocks branched out to form Under the Headstocks Education, where founder Alan Dawson was commissioned to write a drama for an NHS conference under the theme of mental health.
Since then, the group have been involved in conferences with Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN), with their aim being to raise positive awareness of SLCN and establish the theatre group into the educational sphere.
As a theatre group, Under the Headstocks produce work that are all issue based, although are usually driven by humour.
We explore all genres: farce, comedy and modern theatre.
Under the Headstocks are currently working on two main projects. The first is developing the play Ghost Mode by Toni Sutton, hopefully for a performance in Spring 2020, and the second is to develop ALein Express.
ALein Express has been described as “a thoughtful production showing real insight into how SLCN impacts”, and Alan Dawson is currently looking for funding to take the show into the service and retail industry to explore it further.
As well as working in inspiring industries such as mental health and SLCN, Under the Headstocks usually give all their profits to charity, especially homelessness.
This small theatre company strives to make a connection with their audience; in their shows, there is no curtain and at the end of a show, the company and the audience come together to discuss the themes of the show. They take theatre to audiences, and like the audiences up-close rather than being distanced.
Quick Fire Questions
- In the theatre world, who inspires you? “I must say Flea Bag was excellent”
- What is your favourite show that you’ve seen? “Slave by Kevin Fegan”
- What is your favourite genre of theatre? “I watch anything really from west end shows to local small pieces – why limit yourself?”
- What do you think we need more of in theatre? “it’s all about the audience for me and the audience should be nurtured and cultivated”