The BlackBox Theatre Company was set up in 2016 by award winning writer and director, Chris Hawley, and is fast gaining the reputation of being one of the south’s leading professional touring companies. Our aim is to bring exciting, innovative and, most importantly, entertaining and accessible theatre to smaller venues and rural communities throughout Hampshire and surrounding counties and to tap into the abundance of local talent, both for our casts and crew.
The company’s first project was a collaboration with SUP Theatre Company and Són Orchestra at The Turner Simms in Southampton with Chris’ adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Entitled Bottom’s Dream, the play was performed outside the venue to introduce Són’s concert of Mendelssohn’s Dream. Since then we’ve toured with John Godber’s Bouncers, to great acclaim, and in 2018 we visted over 20 venues with the award winning Bully Beef & Whizzbangs as part of the 100th Anniversary Commerorations of the Armistice. Last year, Chris and the company, with the help of The Arts Council and Hanger farm Arts Centre, developed a new script – a live radio version of the classic The 39 Steps for the stage which went on to tour to over twenty venues to huge critical acclaim and of course this year we will be staging Mike Leigh’s iconic 70s comedy, Abigail’s Party.
We perform in village halls, churches, schools and colleges, arts centres and museums but perhaps the strangest place we’ve played in, so far, is on the old Cross Channel Hovercraft at The Hovercraft Museum in Lee on the Solent. (There can’t be many actors who can boast that they’ve performed on a hovercraft!) That and many of our other venues have become a regular fixture on our tour schedule and we’re thrilled that audiences are growing and keep coming back to see us.
Another part of our work includes going into schools, colleges and universities where we not only perform our shows but also run workshops and Q&A sessions with pupils, encouraging students to take more of an interest in the performing arts and hopefully igniting a love of the theatre in one or two. Last year, Winchester University were kind enough to host our rehearsals and a show and this year, as a continuation of our connection with them, we have taken on one of their students an intern and hope to employ more newly graduated performing arts students in the future.
Accessibility is at the heart of what we do and this year we are putting on a relaxed performances in conjunction with Hanger Farm Arts Centre/The Minstead Trust, aimed at those on the Autistic spectrum and those with learning dissabilities who’d benefit from a less demanding atmosphere to watch our shows in, but open to anyone who’d like to come along and see the show who might not otherwise get a chance to go to the theatre that often. So if you’re a mother with a baby or young children, have mobility issues, don’t like loud noises or dark spaces, or you just fancy coming along … you’ll be more than welcome.
Once again we’ll be rehearsing and performing at Hanger Farm Arts Centre so a huge thank you to them for hosting us. If you haven’t been to Hanger Farm, go. It’s an amazing place full of lovely people and great shows.
For more news and details, look out on here and join us on our Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/The-BlackBox-Theatre-Company), on Instagram www.instagram.com/blackboxtheatrecompany and on Twitter ( @BlkBoxTheatreCo )
CHRIS HAWLEY is the Artistic Director of BlackBox Theatre Comapny. He trained at The Arts Educational Schools and was an actor for more than twenty years, working for companies including The BBC, Birmigham Rep and Channel 4, but most recently has turned his hand to writing and directing. Recent credits include directing Your Life is a Feature Film, Touch The Roses, adapting and directing Chekov’s The Seagull (re-titled Chayka), adapting and directing Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novel Making Money, directing Macbeth as part of the RSC’s Open Stages project, A Midsummer Night’s Dream at The Nuffield Theatre, Bottom’s Dream at The Turner Simms and John Godber’s Bouncers for BlackBox. In 2018 he won an award for Best Original Script at The Totton Festival of Drama for Bully Beef & Whizzbangs which subsequently reached the AETF Semi Final before going out on tour. Chris is a member of The Nuffield Theatre’s artist development programme, Laboratory, of JMK Trust’s Director’s Scheme at Salisbury Playhouse and on the committe for SUP Theatre Company in Southampton