Developing the Skills and Confidence of Learning Disabled Adults

About Us

Formed in 1997, the Side By Side Theatre Company Stourbridge is an independent theatre company, giving learning disabled actors the opportunity to develop their skills in the Performing Arts. We originally evolved from the Learning for Life Course at Stourbridge College, where students took examinations with LAMDA and the English Speaking Board, tutored by SBS founder, Susan Wallin.

Now a flourishing company, we are run by qualified performing arts teachers and experienced theatre practitioners, who, along with a support team, give their time voluntarily. As Artistic Director, Susan Wallin continues to foster aspirations to achieve the highest standards of performance skills in all members of the company.

‘We believe in pushing back the boundaries and challenging the perception of learning disability, by working to a professional standard to produce unique and thought-provoking theatre.’
SBS actors are encouraged to contribute to the devising of each production, which include music, dialogue, physical theatre, mime, and multi-media.

‘We work with an individual’s artistic creativity and challenge them to reach beyond perceived limitations, to work towards the highest possible level of achievement in theatre performance. Through training, experience and confidence building, our actors have complete ownership of their performance and can take on full responsibility on stage, without any support from non-disabled helpers.’

Our Aims

  • To give people with learning disabilities the opportunity to explore a means of self-expression and communication through theatre and the performing arts.
  • To develop communication, memory, interpretive and technical skills, through the learning and understanding of expressive movement, vocal techniques, characterisation, role play, acting with others, and stage discipline.
  • To encourage members of the group to develop and extend their abilities to achieve a sense of self-worth and reach their potential.
  • To work to professional standards to provide entertainment of a high quality, and to show that performances by people with learning disabilities can have relevance and exciting entertainment value for the public to enjoy.
  • To advocate for the recognition of talent and achievement by people with learning disabilities, who, through determination and commitment, can go far beyond expectations.

How We Work

Our training sessions are based on the methods used by the ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY and the LONDON ACADEMY OF MUSIC AND DRAMATIC ART ( LAMDA ) These are adapted to suit the abilities of the members and to encourage continuing development and progression to their full potential.

Sessions begin in September each year and run to the end of June, with term times and holidays following the academic year.

Exercises are designed for the development of:

  • Group awareness
  • Group co-operation
  • Self-expression
  • Self –confidence
  • Concentration
  • Physical & mental energy
  • Sense of rhythm
  • Expressive movement
  • Stage orientation
  • Stage presence
  • Stage discipline
  • Imagination
  • Characterisation
  • Voice production
  • Vocal clarity
  • Memory
  • Taking on challenges

Members are given the opportunity to enter classes at Competitive Theatre Festivals each Spring and to take part in the Annual SBS Show at Stourbridge Town Hall every June.

Short performance pieces may be taken to groups and organisations, at their request, throughout the year.

Contact our experienced team for more information about our past, present, and future performances.

Contact Us