Harrow Shed is an inclusive Theatre Group
“An outreach company of CHICKENSHED”
In 2013 Harrow Shed happily celebrated, with past and present members, a decade of running two sessions every Wednesday for lots of participants having fun doing drama, movement, dance and games.
It all started with a chance meeting at a local garden party in 2000 with Linda Foley, who was promoting the Chickenshed Theatre Company, that was followed by an invitation for her to speak at a Luncheon Club. The enthusiastic response to this talk came to the attention of Marina Dunford, a Deputy Headteacher at Hatch End High School who has a strong commitment to the Arts and renowned for directing the very successful annual school musicals.
Marina’s curiosity took her to visit the Hillingdon Shed – the new Chickenshed outreach group – with Becky Cozens and Hayley Ransome to find out more with the intention of volunteering. By the end of the evening, they were sold on this inclusive theatre idea and decided that if Hillingdon had a “Shed”, Harrow should also have one! The journey had begun!
Enthusiasm was boundless, volunteers ready and waiting, Hatch End High School had offered us a weekly performance space free of charge and Chickenshed were ready to train and support us to start up the project. However, we needed to raise £36 000 to begin! It took us three long years and huge thanks must go to the Rotary Club in Harrow, to the Ladies Luncheon Club, Pinner and to the John Lyons Charity who eventually collectively made this project possible. Without their generous support we would not have been able to start.
Harrow Shed opened the doors in September 2003 at Hatch End High School with two groups – the Children’s Theatre (7-11 year olds) and the Youth Theatre (12-16 year olds). The journey has continued and our story includes a long line up of young participants of all abilities and disabilities, huge active support from Chickenshed and Hatch End High School, partnerships with the HEHS Production Society and Children First Cluster and regular involvement in the Harrow Disability Showcase at the Harrow Arts Centre. Every summer Harrow Shed puts on a production which is well supported by family and friends.
Harrow Shed is entirely run by a team of volunteers and whilst several of us have gone the whole distance in one role or another many more have contributed over the years, giving hours of their time to support the group. Some of our volunteers are home grown and have come up through the Children’s and Youth Theatre groups and graduated to Practitioners. In fact we are now in the position of having healthy alumni and have met for reunions!
We are exceptionally grateful to all those people, parents and organisations, who have supported us over the past ten years in all sorts of ways and would like to say how very proud we are of “HARROW SHED”, its young people and its ethos of total inclusivity. Here’s to many more years!