About Stage Theatre Society
Stage Theatre Society – one of the South East’s largest youth theatre companies – celebrated its 15th birthday in 2017. Having worked with over 700 young people on 30 musical productions, today’s STS is very different to the small group which started out in Bredhurst Village Hall all those years ago.
The company has seen many of its members go on to perform professionally, produced some huge shows, including West End hits Billy Elliot, Les Miserables and Ghost, and taken countless numbers of young people on theatre trips, residential weekends and even holidays abroad. And amazingly STS is a registered charity which means that every single of one of the adults working for the company, from directors and choreographers, to chaperones, committee members and chefs, are all volunteers, giving up every Sunday of the year to offer young people the chance to take part.
Co-Owners Richard Hillier and Daniel More know more than anyone that it’s been a hard 15 years building STS into the charity it is today, but every moment has been worth it.
Richard explains, “We always get asked ‘how did it begin?’. As kids, Daniel and I were both very fortunate to attend a school (the Howard School) that dedicated a lot of time and resources to Performing Arts. When we left, we were both a little lost with what to do with our spare time. We decided to gather a group of friends to stage a Halloween-themed cabaret – have you ever tried to come up with 30 songs all on the theme of Halloween! Our friends soon grew up and went about being adults, but Daniel and I weren’t ready to walk away from the theatre quite yet. We put an advert in the KM, advertising auditions for a production for Cinderella to be performed at the Brook Theatre in Chatham. Moreover, the rest, as they say, is history! What started as a project to stage a one-night only cabaret with a group of friends has now grown into a company working with over 100 young people every single year.
STS meet every Sunday – with the only exceptions being Christmas Day and Easter Sunday! – At Rainham Girls School. As a production company, there is always a show on the go. Auditions are held twice a year and the company always try to involve as many young people as possible. Members range of 7 to 19 years old and this includes technicians, stage crew and production team as well as performers. The company don’t make a penny out of shows, but any profit from ticket sales is put straight back into the charity to help fund not only shows but many social events, including an annual Christmas Ball and professional workshops.
A few years ago, the company partnered with a school in Germany and enjoy a very special relationship with them. This has involved not only many exchange visits between the 2 countries, but a collaboration on an entire musical production, staged in the English Theatre in Frankfurt.
Daniel is very proud of the company STS has become: “It’s not just about the shows (although there are a lot of those!) But about the difference we can make to young lives. Alongside rehearsals, we organise a huge number of events – everything from overnight camps and trips to the beach, to holidays in Florida! We’ve been known to take kids on a ghost hunt through Puckley Village, set up an outdoor cinema, and held slightly more children’s parties than we can remember! Some of our members come from dance schools and other stage schools, but many have no experience. We’ve had some brilliant success stories where kids have told us they’d probably be sitting in a park every evening if it wasn’t for STS. It’s a safe, friendly place to go where it doesn’t matter what your age is – everyone just gets on.”
Richard sums up STS “We may have gone from a cast of 20, to working with over 600 young people. Our shows now have a budget not of “who can donate what” but of over £15,000 per production. We’re on more social media platforms than I think actually exist. But in essence, we are still that theatre company that started one day based upon the ideals of creating life-long friends and life-long memories.