A former student from Stratford-upon-Avon College has gone from performer to playwright, with his first play debuting at a local arts venue.
Chris Callaghan, a Stratford-upon-Avon resident, studied Performing Arts at the College from 2015-2017 with the aim to be a performer. But his journey since has taken him on a path he never thought possible.
Chris had always had a love for theatre and the arts and especially living in Stratford, was exposed to it from a young age. So for him, coming to the College made absolute sense: “There was such a strong presence of theatre and Shakespeare in Stratford and I was dead set that that was the route I wanted to go down.”
He loved his time on the course: “I had so many great experiences. Practical experiences like the opportunities to direct and be directed in the Directors festival that gave amazing chances for students to be collaborative and on the whole just the inclusive environment.”
After completing the course, Chris found that though he loved acting, he had enjoyed learning about other elements of creating theatre more. Though still performing he also started working as a Stage Manager for local companies like The Bear Pit Theatre: “I found that I just wanted more new challenges and venturing backstage did that for me.”
Now Chris is the Assistant Manager of local Arts venue The Music Café and has been since its opening in 2021. As well as managing service, Chris also helps to schedule, market and organise the events in the space: “It is a great space to be a part of and it offers variety. Music, poetry, play reading and art shows, it allows me to be exposed to such an amazing range of the Arts.”
Chris continued to feel the pull of the theatre, but this time as a writer: “During lockdown I had some time and realised I had a story I wanted to try and develop. After a lot of work, Colourblind was created.”
The play is about a painter who is stuck in a rut so tries to combat this by live streaming his art. But when a new person swings by the live stream, a relationship develops. This show is intimate and engaging so Chris thought the café would be the perfect location to showcase it.
Ian Meeson, venue owner, was happy to help Chris with his venture: “We love the arts, with myself and co-owner Carl Walker both coming from a performance background. We are passionate about helping young creatives. And this will be the first fully realised theatre show in the space which is incredibly exciting!”
The show is being performed on the 11th April and Chris is hoping this is the start of something exciting: “I have a great venue, am using West End actors and have amazing support so I hope it goes well. Afterwards I plan to take it on tour around art galleries round the country.”
Chris has gone through a range of arts-based jobs to get to where he is today and thanks the College for preparing him with so many skills: “The confidence I gained at college and the exposure to different roles prepared me for the working world. I was a nervous person, but the college allowed me to grow in both ability and confidence.”
He encourages students to explore their passion: “Don’t be scared if performing isn’t for you as you can still use your love of theatre in so many ways! Don’t be afraid to try new things. Lighting, sound, stage management, writing, composing, producing; there is so much out there. A successful journey is different to everyone.”
Break a leg Chris for your opening night!