Groundlings is a unique Georgian Theatre that hosts a rich and varied programme of events throughout the year - a great many of which are produced in house.
Built in 1784, the historic building is seen by many visitors as something of a magical place, with secret doors, hidden rooms and even - if you so believe - ten friendly ghosts. In its time, the Groundlings has been frequented by Queen Victoria and was very nearly the birthplace of Portsmouth's most famous son, Charles Dickens.
The building went on to serve both the rich and the poor, with downstairs floor serving as a classroom for impoverished children, whilst the upstairs was used by the high society for meetings, concerts and theatrical performances. The school applied a very disciplinarian attitude to education, and it wasn't until 1837 that the previously boys-only school was opened to girls (the same year a junior school was formed there).
The school had to be closed in 1939 due to the outbreak of WW2 and it's said that a Nazi sympathizer used the roof of the school to shine a torch to direct bombers seeking to hit Portsmouth Dockyard. The school finally closed for good in 1962, but it wasn't until 2010 that it found a new lease of life - in the guise we see today.
It was in 2010 when Richard Stride bought a burned-out shell of a theatre (thanks to a stray firework). Richard then embarked on a major restoration job, for which he appealed to locals to get involved and roll up their sleeves. The development project was in desperate need of help; so builders, local volunteers and countless others came to lend a hand.
With Groundlings Theatre finally fully restored, the team of actors, locals and volunteers run a varied programme of events for young and old. Today you can see everything from panto to comedy, new plays to Shakespeare. Groundlings Theatre is buzzing with life and offers a truly unique and intimate experience when watching a performance.
The schooling aspect hasn't left, however. There are a number of drama schools and courses running throughout the year, catering for all ages and abilities.
The Youth Acting Classes take place every Saturday. Participants are split into groups by age, with different sessions for each. The Curtain Group (ages 7-10) are on Saturdays 11:30am-1.30pm, whilst the Swan Group (ages 11-15) are from 2pm-4pm. These courses are specially designed to bring out the actor in anyone! The weekly course offers practical ways to hone acting skills, boost confidence, work on stage with other actors and have tons of fun!
In addition, there's the Groundlings Musical Theatre course, aimed at young people who wish to learn and develop all the essential skills (singing, acting and dancing) all in one class. Attendees will also get to perform in at least one production a year, as well as having the option of being a part of the Groundlings Drama school productions and even performing in the annual professional Christmas Panto! Classes run ever Tuesday, from 5pm-7pm for ages 6-11, and 1pm-9pm for ages 12-18.
Adult Acting Classes, meanwhile, take place every Wednesday. Designed to develop acting knowledge and ability under the expert tutelage of performing arts professionals, the so-called Globe Group (for ages 16+) meets 8pm–10pm.
Last but not least is the Company of Elders - a drama group for the over 60s. The group, which meets 10am-12pm every Thursday, is all about discovering yourself and your love for the theatre. It's made up of all abilities, from retired professionals to those who have always wanted to give acting a go but never quite managed it.
Map & Directions
|Groundlings Theatre (1 Jan 2020 - 31 Dec 2020)|