Wednesday, 21 October 2015

We received some really lovely messages after our 10th birthday party and would love to share them with you. Please be in touch if you'd like to share your memories too.

12039693 893552524031291 4836503062635651286 n"Thanks for inviting us to share in 1623’s birthday celebration! We all had a great time, especially with the dressing up box and the excellent cake. I hope I can make it to the 20yr celebration that you’ll no doubt be holding in your own theatre… on the moon." : Robin Newman, QUAD digital technical officer

“We had a whale of a time at 1623’s first 10 year bash! A lovely mix of planned and spontaneous cameo performances interspersed with good company and some hands-on activities Have you had a selfie with a skull? It was all capped off with some excellent chocolate cake. What more could you ask for? This IS what 1623 is all about.” : Margaret Dewhurst, 1623 advisory board member

"What a lovely way to spend a Sunday the company of some of the most creative and totally lovely people its been my pleasure to meet. I am, of course referring to the 10th Birthday party for 1623 Theatre Company. I remember it as if it was yesterday, Ben saying that he wanted to set up his own theatre company celebrating Shakespeare, but finding new ways of using Shakesoeare to fit many different agendas. The rest is history...because here we are 10 years on. The first actual performance I saw was The Course of True Love...which I adored and although I haven't been able to see as much work as I'd liked to have...I have followed this amazing company's work over the years and I never cease to be impressed at how Ben finds ways to put 1623 on many different agendas and manages to find support from heavyweights in the theatre. All of this proves to me just how much 1623 is held in high regard with audiences and partners alike...and yesterday's party also illustrated how much Ben and his amazing vision is loved by all who know him...either professionally, or by reputation. I am proud and humbled to play a small part in helping 1623 through its next ten years." : Kevan Jackson, 1623 advisory board member

12043035 893552654031278 8085032264738404037 n"It was my pleasure to join in with the celebrations of 1623’s first 10 years. The party was attended by so many talented and lovely people, all who’ve been a part of the company’s great success over the last decade. The performances throughout the afternoon where fantastic, with Ben and Kat’s scene from “The Taming of the Shrew” a personal highlight. I’ve been part of 1623 for the past four years, most recently becoming an associate artist. I treasure the creative adventures we’ve undertaken while being excited for what comes next." : Darius Powell, 1623 associate artist

"It was great to see many of the people who have been involved with 1623 over the past ten years. As a relative newcomer there were many I didn't know, but it was good to have a bit longer chat with some of those I've met but never really spoken to that much because we're usually too busy Shakespeare-ing!  The 1623 actors were very friendly and were willing to give out a few clues with quiz answers! The Shakspeare play snippets were great too - in particular I noticed Heath, who is (I'd guess) pre-school or infant school age, watching in absolute fascination at the scene with Bottom and Titania. It's great that Shakespeare, via 1623, can engage kids at such a young age! Top marks also to Jamie Brown for making his baby daughter's fancy dress costume-queen of the fairies with 'Methinks I am enamoured of an ass' written on her dress in multicoloured glitter! As Jamie jokingly requested, Ben's closing speech was nice and short, but beautifully pointed out what is at the heart of 1623." : Cate Buxton, 1623 supporter

12039650 893553554031188 1305707134021453965 n"One of the words that keeps coming up in connection with 1623 and the 10th birthday celebrations is ‘family’. I think you provide a wonderful space for people to challenge themselves and develop in ways that are nourishing and positive. Being involved with 1623 has been a fantastic experience. You and the company certainly exceed the brief of making people see Shakespeare differently. I’m always impressed by the vision and wit which informs every project and look forward to watching the Lear/Cordelia project evolve over the next 12-18 months. Nurture your creative spirit Ben, it’s a real gift!" : Dr Annaliese Connolly, 1623 advisory board chair

"It was lovely to see so many people celebrating 1623's 10th birthday - as ever, a mixture of memories, humour, playfulness and drama. 1623's Artistic Director, Ben, sits two desks away from me in QUAD's office and hardly ever a day goes by without laughter, ideas and lashings of tea. It's always a pleasure to work with Ben - we've delivered Digital Shakespeare to school students and shared a stall at a Learning Outside the Classroom conference for teachers. Our adventures for the coming year include Animating Shakespeare workshops for schools and a Digital Shakespeare conference - it doesn't get much more exciting than that! Well done and Happy Birthday to 1623 - here's to the next 10 years!" : Sandra Greatorex, QUAD education curator

12046980 893554240697786 2664143238020657377 n"There is only one fitting way to begin this and that is to wish 1623 a truly wonderful 10th birthday! I remember when this creative force first entered my life at the forming of Derby's Independent Theatre Network. I say force because that is what 1623 is to me, a tour de force pioneering the arts and championing inclusivity for all at every step of the way. I could not have imagined a better way to celebrate a decade of successes and growth than to gather at QUAD on a sunny, Autumn afternoon for Shakespearean games, a quiz, fantastic performances, joyful company and of course much cake eating! All the hard work, dedication, motivation, inspiration, active inclusivity, idea sharing and constant supporting was clearly evidenced by the seemingly endless abundance of smiling faces. To bring so many people together to join in celebration is a true testament to the magic which surrounds 1623 theatre company." : Rhiannon Stackhouse, 1623 participation coordinator

12047042 893553444031199 3771969258186848904 n"The party was wonderful. Not only was it a time for celebration, it was a time to reflect on what such a great theatre company has accomplished in a decade. It also highlighted the importance of the arts and the role they play in so many people's lives and how they touch people; inspiring to say the least. I can't imagine it's always been easy, but keep on doing what you're doing 1623. We need you. So here's to the next decade and I look forward to the growing and blossoming yet to come!" : Muj Shah, actor

"On Sunday 27th September people from far and wide gathered at QUAD in Derby.  Many had never met before but there was one thing they all shared, a love for 1623 Theatre Company. The occasion was the 10th Birthday celebration of the company that sees Shakespeare differently and the atmosphere was jubilant. 1623 has touched the lives of so many people since it was founded in 2005. Those that gathered represented a tiny fraction of the actors, workshop participants, supporters, friends, artists and audience members who have been involved in the journey so far. What was clear from the event, which included a quiz, slides, acted scenes and a specially commissioned video, was the amount 1623 has achieved in its first decade and the great love that people hold for company. Everyone had a treasured memory of their involvement in the company and great hopes for what the next ten years will bring. At the centre of this celebration, artistic director Ben Spiller, determined that the event focussed on the company and not him, seemed quite overwhelmed by the amount of love in the room. But he should not have been surprised as 1623 Theatre Company has affected people from so many walks of life and Ben’s passion and enthusiasm shines through in everything they do. What Ben has created is a family, one which I am proud to be a member of. This family grows with every performance, workshop and event that 1623 Theatre Company is involved in. And this family reunion left me extremely excited for the future and what this family can achieve. Here’s to the next ten years... and beyond." : Mandy Jeffrey, 1623 supporter

12108744 896024883784055 8035748844308552291 n"I really enjoyed the party, it was great to see so many there and to speak to people who I hadn’t met before. Plus, what a good job Darius had made of that video - you should upload it onto You tube and spread the 1623 message! The performances were great too, it doesn’t seem quite fair to mention any one in particular however Jamie Brown was absolutely fantastic as Hamlet. I think it was around 18 months ago that I first came across 1623 at a Shakespeare Night at QUAD. We were discussing Hamlet. Since then, I’ve slowly got to know the company better plus made many other friends such as Julie, Cate and others. You’ve all become personal friends, we’ve been to the cinema, theatre and meals out together. It's given me a whole new social outlook which is wonderful and I’m so very grateful for. I really do appreciate you all. I haven’t seen that many 1623 performances yet, only a few at the Market Place fountain. I love the way that 1623 has taught me so much - for example I have never seen or read Taming of the Shrew but I saw 1623 perform a brief scene from the play and really enjoyed it. I now know that I would like to see the full play one day. Then there’s the Sharing Shakespeare workshops which have taught me so much and made learning about Shakespeare fun! I’ve often said that I’m on a learning curve with Shakespeare, well 1623 has helped me so much with that. I also think it’s important to feel that I can ask questions without feeling foolish, which I feel more than happy doing. I also enjoy hearing about all the work you do in schools, particularly with young people displaying challenging behaviours. Due to my own job, this is something I feel passionate about and it never fails to inspire me. So, in short “Thank you”! Thank you for giving me new friends, thank you for making learning fun, thank you for the Shakespeare nights, thank you for being inspiring. And above all, thank you for allowing me to call you my friend." : Linda Ball, Shakespeare Night participant

12088197 893554410697769 6095774945306338475 n"Enjoyed the party on Sunday very much. It's inspiring to see how you’ve developed your practice over 10 years and applied your passion for Shakespeare in such innovative ways. Here’s to another 10 years!" : Keith Jeffrey, CUSE managing director and former QUAD chief executive

"Following a week of rehearsals and performances of the well received and wonderfully performed Macbrew, animation workshops, a Shakespeare Night, the usual hive of busyness that is 1623, with a couple of dances at Derby Feste's ceilidh thrown in, a gathering of nearly 100 people celebrating 10 years of 1623 was the perfect way to spend a Sunday. It was amazing to chill out at QUAD and chat to people who have been involved with 1623 and the inspirational and fresh work it has produced over the last 10 years. As a recent newcomer to 1623, there were a lot of people at the party who I didn’t know, so after purchasing my birthday T-shirt and being supplied with ginger beer and vegan bars (Margaret kept me well stocked, thank you!) I began my mission of finding out what it is that makes 1623 special to people. It seems this company is able by its ethos of 'seeing Shakespeare differently’ to be inclusive to any member of society. Both young and older people of all walks of life and abilities talk passionately and fondly of 1623. The fact that Ben is always finding new way to explore Shakespeare and everyone at 1623 is more than happy to share their skills to make these ideas work, seems to be one of the reasons that whether it is a performance of Macbeth in a cave, Romeo and Juliet at Glastonbury or any of the numerous participatory or learning opportunities, 1623 remains as fresh and engaging as it did 10 years ago. We all spent a magical afternoon playing games, eating, chatting about past and future projects, while being treated to snippets of past productions, performed live by a handful of talented actors. A game of pass the parcel was a great opportunity to see how 1623 may continue to inspire people in the future. As I mentioned earlier I have only been involved with 1623 for a relatively short time, though it is obvious to me that it touches many people’s lives. With this in mind it seems to me that this celebration meant more than just marking the amazing achievements of 1623 as a theatre company. Over the last 10 years and being excited by many more years to come, it was, if I may quote Ben: “...about all the arts, creativity and how they transform people’s lives and change the world for the better”. (Ben Spiller, 1623 artistic director, 2015). A very happy 10th Birthday 1623 and congratulations to all who have helped to make it a successful ten years. I hope there are many, many more happy and successful years to come. I feel it wouldn’t be right to leave without a quote from Will himself, so: “I wish you all the joy that you can wish” (The Merchant of Venice, Act 3 Scene 2). : Gabriel “Shane” Lynch, University of Derby Theatre Arts student

Rose enjoys dressing up"1623's 10th birthday celebrations nicely summed up, for me, everything that 1623 stands for; inclusivity, engagement, drama, fun, art, challenge and learning.  With the addition of some brilliant nibbles! As I've come to know Ben and his brilliant company, and as I've made various friends through Shakespeare Night, I've learnt exactly the impact this theatre has on everyone it touches. It is truly inspirational, encouraging everyone to take part, challenge, question, create and make a difference. And it's not just about Shakespeare, we delve into the human condition, we question morality and challenge the world in which we live today, the bard is merely a foundation and his plays are a much needed catalyst for the important things we need to talk about. As I look to the future, I'm excited to be working on the upcoming Lear/Cordelia project, which I know Ben and the 1623 team have worked so hard on so far, I only hope I can do justice to their vision, and tell the story Cordelia deserves, with integrity and emotional truth. I'm extremely proud to be an associate artist at 1623, and very excited about what the next 10 years will bring!" : Farrah Chaudhry, Birmingham REP Foundry playwright and 1623 associate artist

"Thank you, Ben and 1623 for a wonderful party on Sunday to celebrate your 10 year anniversary. I’ve supported 1623 since the beginning and am so pleased to see it going from strength to strength, innovating all the time. With imagination, perseverance and hard work, all members of the team are fulfilling the remit of making Shakespeare accessible to all, wherever and whoever they are, as well as proving that the arts are just as important in everyone’s life as industry, science, economics etc. Every event I have attended has been thoroughly enjoyable, often moving and I am sure this will continue in the next 10, 20, 30......years. Thank you and good luck, 1623!" : Dr Yvette Lydon, 1623 supporter

Our birthday T-shirts by Firecatcher"After hearing about and applying for the 1623 trainee course I decided to go to see their production of Romeo and Juliet at Wirksworth’s Star Circle so that I could win some brownie points at my audition. Thankfully it paid off and I got a place on the 1623 Trainee Course which was one of the best experiences of my career. We looked at Shakespeare from loads of different angles including film, puppetry, movement, singing, and much more. During my training Ben asked me if I would be interested in performing Romeo and Juliet at the Joseph Wright Art Gallery in Derby, I of course said yes. It was amazing working on a professional production of Shakespeare and performing in front of the painting which depicted Juliet about to kill herself. I then performed with them again at Halloween literally resurrecting my Juliet, this time covered in green with bits of skin peeling off. Since then I have asked Ben for his advice and direction on numerous occasions. Ben has been the best tutor and guide I could have hoped for. I have just starting attending Shakespeare Night with 1623 at Derby Theatre which has been great and I’m really looking forward to Richard the third. During my time with 1623 I have seen them achieve countless amazing things. I went to a lecture they gave at Sheffield university (I snuck in the back). I know they have had amazing success with their King Lear project focusing on dementia, working with people living with dementia as well as working with medical professionals to diagnose Lear. They have also run loads of educational projects with schools as well as Shakespeare Night. Most recently I worked with Ben and we performed scenes from Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Derby Pride, looking at it from an LGBTQ point of view with a female Romeo and a male Titania. This was a huge success and will hopefully lead to loads more exciting projects." : Lucy Daunt, actor and former 1623 trainee artist

Benedick and Beatrice have fun"It was an honour to join with so many friends to celebrate 1623 theatre company's 10th birthday party on Sunday, at wonderful QUAD in Derby. Having seen 1623's very first show, way back when, and been inspired and encouraged to participate in many more projects since, it's been a real pleasure seeing the company grow and evolve and reach exciting new heights. And always with a touch of the hilarious and the magical and the moving - which was true of the birthday party itself. Much fun was had by all and I loved catching up with so many familiar faces, all of whom have been brought together by the infectious enthusiasm that 1623 (and especially Ben himself) has inspired in us all. The day was a great tribute to the hard, hard work that has gone into building the company up from scratch, but also a celebration of the joy that theatre and the arts can provide, bringing diverse people together. And artistic director Ben's passionate, barnstorming speech in defence of, and love for, the arts was a vital call to action for us all. The arts are not just for an elite, or just for artists or traditional theatre audiences to enjoy, but something we can ALL get involved in and cherish. Through the arts, we can all create, invent, question, laugh, sing, cry, celebrate and fall in love. Inspiring stuff! Happy birthday, 1623!" : Stuart Lydon, teacher and 1623 advisory board member

Titania has a cheeky nap"I was delighted when I heard that 1623 would be throwing a 10th birthday party. There are a few reasons for my excitement. Firstly, I was recently asked to join 1623 as an Advisory Board Member. A post that I am honoured to have recently started. So, attending a party for a company who have just turned 10 is a great way to start such a post. Secondly, I have known Ben for a few years, and his passion, dedication, hard work and positivity have been a driving force for 1623 Theatre Company. He has a way of bringing people from all backgrounds and walks of life together and engage them through theatre, art and performance. He gives 100% as Artistic Director and his passion for Shakespeare inspires everyone around him. The 10th Birthday party showed a glimpse of how much 1623 has grown in 10 years. Ben is joined by the 1623 extremely talented team including Christopher Lydon, 1623 Creative Producer and an array of associate artists (actors, writers, designers) advisory board members and the brilliant Dame Janet Suzman, 1623 Patron. There were people present who had been involved over the years, and some who had been there from the start. Darius Powell, 1623 associate artist produced a video highlighting the last decade. It included some great highlights and showed how much 1623 have done all over the country. The party would not be complete without a bit of Shakespeare! It was amazing to see the 1623 actors erupt into performance in the middle of a conversation. There was also cake. Correction, two cakes! I had a great time at the party, I met some great people, had some great conversations, enjoyed playing the quiz, ate some cake and food, but the thing that I enjoyed the most was the realisation that I do see Shakespeare differently, thanks to Ben and 1623, and I cannot wait for the next 10 years. I look forward to being inspired and seeing 1623 develop into an internationally renowned theatre company, a leader in creating innovative theatre for everyone. Here's to the next 10 :-)" : Sebah Chaudhry, FORMAT festival coordinator and 1623 advisory board member


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