A classified stamp- it says 'Untold Stories'

Untold Stories by The Blue Sky Actors

On Saturday the 25th March 2023, I had the pleasure to going along to Stratford Circus Theatre E15 to watch my daughter perform alongside an ensemble performing in a play called UNTOLD STORIES.

Now, ….understand this ensemble drama group The Blue Sky Actors (part of Face Front Theatre) is a group formed for adults with disabilities and learning difficulties.
Secondly, they are brilliantly known by reputation for their many performances that are usually very funny, full of innuendo, and comedy; none of which takes away from the hard work and planning that goes into shows from both the actors and their loyal, amazing, dedicated and caring professional actors who ‘help them along’ each Saturday at Stratford Circus.

This performance though, THIS PERFORMANCE…..was TOTALLY DIFFERENT, in nearly two hours of riveting, unmatched stage performance we were treated to a completely different side to this drama group.
Stuff JUST GOT SERIOUS….we were wowed and amazed (as usual) not just by their performance, we enjoyed, and their teamwork but also by the content which showcased;well… people just like them!

People who in the past were marginalised, made fun of and seen as not ‘normal’.
They were able to educate us, and I do mean educate us with information about several of the famous PT BARNUM’S acts. Many of whom were showcased in the movie the Greatest Showman and obviously in real life in his travelling circus/’freak’ show production.

We were amazed at the lives of Annie Jones (The Bearded Lady) Joseph/John Merrick (The Elephant Man) Ella Harper (the camel girl) and Jack Earle (tallest man in the world).

The performance was real, passionate, thought-provoking and informative you could see bits of humor interjected (it’s a blue sky thing) but it didn’t feel right to laugh, but just to smile.
The actors reveled in the performance using big screen projection and well-timed actions to support their improv acting and performance.

It was one of their best and they shone, just like the individuals they were proudly highlighting.
As usual, the clever use of props (very few props) music, and lighting was brilliant and you could see how much effort and hard work had gone into yet another performance.

The second half allowed us to breathe, and relax a bit(in a good way) the intensity went down a bit,AND HUMOUR rose, however, the informative content remained at a TEN, as we cleverly learned about Satsumas, Chocolate, Lemonade and were treated to the passion of Chef Goerge Speck,…. who?
Well, He invented crisps..(who knew).See it was informative!

Congratulations to all involved it was a treat to all our senses, and the biggest compliment I could pay is that friends and family who had never seen the group perform were leaving feeling so informed but really impressed at the acting skills and what they were presented with.
My, comment to them was ‘you wait for panto in December when they show their other side…it will have you in stitches’. One friend said…’ it really makes you want to get on stage and be a part of it’…say no more.

My daughter has been involved in Blue Sky for over 5 years now, its not just a place to send someone with a particular difficulty (in her case Downs Syndrome) on a saturday afternoon, for something to do. No, it is far,far more than that. It is a community, a family, somewhere where the group feels, safe, able to flourish, make bonds, but above all learn acting and drama skills.
The performers are made to stretch themselves, gain confidence, and you know what that does…it raises self esteem !

My daughter Lauren so ,so looks forward to her saturday mornings, and craves more it has given her aspiration to want to act professionally (i keep reminding her this is professional acting) but it has given her a place where she feels she fits. She belongs and can be a role model, inspiration and most importantly make friends.
During their 3 hours on a Saturday, as parents, we never worry or fret about where she is, what she is doing or if she is having fun…tick to all the aforementioned.

The Blue Sky drama group, has a waiting list that is growing, as word spreads, and they are trying to stretch numbers as much as comfortably and safely they can, but they will always listen and look out for new actors, and volunteers, like me…who can help on Saturday’s. While the performers can hone their skills not just for shows but for social skills and acting in general. Volunteers can also jump in and help on show days in so many ways. It’s a great place to be.

I thank the staff at Blue Sky, for all they do…thank you really is not enough …they are number one on my list if I ever come into a substantial amount of money. Like all groups who do so much for adults with some difficulties, they need funding and they do as much as they can but they need more, and deserve it too.

A saturday afternoon allows the adults who can travel independently to a place they can reach fairly easily by public transport, DBS checked adults,skilled actors to help, and a safe environment to perform in.
The rest is up to them. My daughter as I am sure do the others, feels valued, challenged and happy in this environment and what she didn’t get at school in terms of ‘having a chance to perform’ is there for her right now.

We and her would be lost without these individuals at Blue Sky and face Front theatre who through a pandemic are were always there, showing they always care and really allay our fear. (a rap to finish)

Julian Hilaire
Proud Parent and Now Blue Sky Volunteer (Official)