Open Stage is Open to All

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Out of the Open Book Project at Goldsmiths University came Open Stage, a vehicle for the project’s creative members to write, direct and produce their own theatre productions, writes Michael Holland.

Open Book was started in 2004 by Joe Baden (now OBE due to his services to Education) to break down barriers to higher education and open it up to all. Open Stage operates from the same foundation.

Susan Hallissey, the artistic director, took a break from rehearsals and explained: ‘Open Stage CIC grew from a desire by people who wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to appear on stage to take theatre into their own hands and do so. Many of us came to Open Stage via Goldsmiths Open Book following the ethos of education for all. We also believe the same of theatre and the arts.’

How does it work?

‘We perform and create theatre that relates to us, and people like us. I’m not saying that we haven’t all been performing in one way or another throughout our lives, but for some it’s an easy transition!’ 

Who is involved?

‘The actors are not professionally trained but have shown themselves to have natural skills for acting… It is a mix of people who often had a go at one Open Stage production and have kept coming back again and again.’

What plays do you perform?

‘Open Stage CIC devises its own scripts over several sessions of improvising, discussing issues and seeing how we can create a piece of theatre. Everyone gets a chance to contribute. I then take the ideas and write up which parts we agree work. At the end of this we have the semblance of a play.’ 

What’s the next production?

‘It will be “A little bit Grimm”, which I directed and is an evening of two parts. The first act is a film called ‘Tower Block Choir’ made during lockdown. It’s a comedy drama, created on phones and Zoom during the pandemic. It has been edited by Solomon Popoola, and deserves a wider audience. The second act is a look at three fairy tales in a contemporary light.’ 

Will that still be original work?

‘Of course! All ideas and writing are original and this is far removed from the originals. It’s actually been an interesting process seeing where we’ve landed with them! Sadly, the issues portrayed are based on real events. However, there is a light touch running throughout this work – we try to balance the hard hitting with some humour. We have had a lot of laughter in rehearsals at the expense of one of our ‘thespians’! I can’t give anything away but it’s worth it just to see him!’

Who will be playing the roles?

‘In this production we have some of our regular actors: Ed Hay, Sharon Johnson and Keith ‘The Gravitas’ Pigott, who are core members of the group. Then we have three new actors: Rebekah Loughnane, Adam Shatwell and Katie Strickland, and we are wishing them well with this first production.’

How do you find people to fill the roles?

‘The cast generally arrive by word of mouth or through Goldsmiths Open Book. No experience is necessary, in fact, it is absolutely welcomed!’


‘Yes, we want to see people surprise themselves and, trust me, one of our cast has really surprised us all this time! And it doesn’t have to be acting; it could be help with set design, sourcing props, flyers, promoting ,etc.’

Anything you’d like to add?

‘If you are interested in theatre and have not had the opportunity or confidence to join a drama group, try us. We are relaxed and informal; all we ask is that you are open to having a go!’

If you are interested in getting involved with Open Stage contact:

‘A Little Bit Grimm’ will be on at:

Goldsmiths Student Union, 10 Dixon Road, New Cross, SE14 6NW

18th to 21st June 2024 at 7.30pm

Tickets £11.00 Concessions £7.00. Available at

If you would like more information about Open Book please contact:


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