Since 2004 we've been providing pathways into the arts for young people in Banbury and the surrounding areas.
Many members have come up through our youth theatre, trained professionally and now work in the theatre industry- even our chair! Of course, many others have found success in a whole range of other jobs. Here are just some of their stories...
I have been involved with CTC since its inception, as a trainee actor starting out auditioning for
drama school, throughout my training at RADA, as a professional actress and beyond.
The company has given me the room to grow in to many additional roles, offering support and
guidance to learn about directing, writing, teaching and management roles. All of these have
been invaluable not only in my journey as an actor but given me the skills, confidence and
knowledge to build a business outside of the acting world.
I now run Brook House Woods a 'glamping' and woodland workshop offering courses in
woodwork and yoga. The skills I learnt in CTC have given me a solid basis in scheduling,
marketing and running group projects, and have also taught me that passion and planning are what you need to get a project off the ground!
This company has been a godsend for young people looking to build a career in the theatre, as well as supporting the growth of local peoples idea's, supporting and guiding them regardless of race, gender, sexuality or socio-economic backgrounds.
Banbury is lucky to have a company like this, I have felt the benefit of it for many years and look forward to hearing the stories from participants for the next ten years and beyond.
CTC was a great thing to be a part of, especially valuable when I was studying at drama school and had recently graduated. It gave a platform of being able to write, direct and act, which are not easy things to do in parallel. It was a safe space where you knew what you had written would be valued and taken seriously. If I hadn't had the experience of my writing work being staged by CTC I would never have had the confidence to apply for the Royal Court Young Writers Programme or to produce work for Theatre 503 and Latitude Festival. It was a great environment where you could wear all three hats.
Going away to London to drama school was intimidating and quite lonely at times, so having a theatrical family to come back to in the holidays was fantastic. It was great to have other inputs and outputs other than just drama school, which can be an all-consuming environment.
Lets be honest, getting acting gigs is tough, and CTC gave me the chance to still flex theatrical skills and muscles in the first steps of my career, rather than allowing them to gather dust.
And as my career has continued, I have loved having the opportunity to come back and work with young people like I was myself. To put energy into their enthusiasm has been immensely rewarding and incredibly grounding as well in an industry where keeping two feet on the ground is essential.
Just knowing that there is theatre in Banbury is so precious. That a space exists where young people can see by example its actually possible to make a career in the arts and create it themselves is heart warming.
I was 13 years old when I joined CTC, and in doing so I was able to channel my energy in a
positive way which helped me through my teenage years and well in to adulthood, as I was
part of CTC until I went off to University. I didn't choose acting, but I now work in media.
I'm 26 now, and I can honestly say that the 8 years or so I spent with CTC has given me the
confidence I needed to succeed in my career.
It's not just taught me how to express myself but it's developed my confidence and creativity
as well as my team work and reasoning skills, which has been hugely beneficial not just in
work, but in life.
I'd recommend CTC to any young person; whether you want to act professionally, are looking to
expand your circle of pals, or if you just fancy doing something fun and a bit different. For me, it
was just an after school club I joined because I thought maybe I might want to be an actor (I ended up becoming a Radio Producer!) 13 years later, it's become a lifetime of some of my happiest memories with a best friend from there to boot - and a little bonus, we are now flatmates! CTC really has done some wonderful things and I hope it continues to do so.
I owe a lot to Cherwell Theatre Company, through Nasser Memarzia and the other industry professionals I got the chance to work with and learn from. I was encouraged to explore who I was as an artist and a person in an environment that felt supportive and safe.
As a young actor about to embark on my training at the New York Conservatoire, these experiences were invaluable to me and I still use the skills that I learned back then in my professional career today. Having come full circle from young company member to professional actor I can see the value of CTC from all angles and I am so gratified to see the continuing support, encouragement and opportunities that they offer to young people here in the Banbury area. Without those same opportunities I can quite confidently say I would not be where I am today.
I booked my first acting job in 2005, in Banbury with Cherwell Theatre Company. Throughout the
following years it has been deeply rewarding and a great pleasure to be part of CTC’s development.
From the outset, Cherwell Theatre Company has provided a warm and welcoming environment to
people of all ages and from all backgrounds. For me personally, CTC has been my safe place to
explore creatively, not only as a performer but also as an assistant director, wardrobe manager,
writer and workshop leader. While the younger and amateur members of the company may learn
much from the trained creatives, the professionals gain so much in return from being immersed in
the enthusiasm and freshperspective that CTC members always bring to the rehearsal room.
Over the years, CTC has become a community; once you have been involved you are never forgotten
and meeting new, current or ex-members feels like reuniting with family. Additionally, this provides a network of contacts for those starting a career in the arts. Returning to CTC, as either an actor or audience member, never fails to reignite my passion for theatre and remind me of how vital the performing arts are.
In 2015, I paused my acting career and turned to another skill set which I was fortunate enough to have honed at CTC: teaching and child development. After studying for a year in Paris, I went on to gain an MSc in Psychology of Education with distinction from the University of Bristol and am currently applying to PhD programmes whilst pursuing a career in educational psychology. I never could’ve predicted the turn my career path would take, but I’m extremely grateful that Cherwell Theatre Company have been an important training ground and an unflinching source of support to me. I can’t wait to see what the company does next.
My time at CTC was probably the single biggest influence for me pursuing a career in acting. My school had very little Performing Arts provision and locally there weren’t any group. Without CTC I probably would have ended up studying something academic at University.
CTC taught me from a young age what to expect from the professional world. Nasser and Tristan taught me to be unapologetic on stage and how to be professional in a rehearsal room which has been very valuable in pursuing my next steps. I have great memories throughout my teens with CTC, gaining friends I’ll have for life, I hope to be able to come back in the future after training to be a part of helping the next generation of Young People come through CTC who want to pursue a career in the arts.
Working with Cherwell Theatre Company over the past 6 years has an been incredibly
rewarding experience. Whether it be watching the development of the youth groups,
teaching or being part of shows - each year has helped me progress and tailor my craft
as both a professional actor and composer.
As an actor I have been able to experiment and contribute towards script alterations,
work one on one with young, eager actors and be a support network for budding
drama school students who watch and learn about the industry. The key to working with
this talented society is that it aims to bridge the gap between amateur and professional,
always pushing boundaries within the community and making classic tales modern and
relevant to a 21st century audience.
Cherwell Theatre Company has also given me the unique position of resident composer. Working alongside the team to produce original music for various pieces of theatre - ranging from Panto, to TIE and Edinburgh Fringe Shows. This experience has allowed me to build my musical CV and take my composing further afield and build a successful brand as a professional composer in my own right.
Jessica Lloyd Jones
Cherwell Theatre Company has been such an important part of me becoming a professional actor. I’ve always known I wanted to be involved in the arts and I found CTC to be so warm, inviting and also incredibly affordable as I feel the arts are becoming less and less accessible to everyone.
My first christmas show was Alice in Wonderland when I was 15 and it was amazing being able to work with professional actors, I was able to learn a great deal and also made friends for life.
This led me to join the drama classes, facilitated by Nasser. He dedicated so much time in helping me prepare for drama school auditions and I can safely say if I didn’t have his help I don’t think I’d be where I am now, working as a professional actor and voice over artist and starting my own company!
The wonderful thing about being a part of Cherwell Theatre Company is no matter where you go, either off to drama school, traveling the world or simply taking some time out, you are always welcomed back and its as if you never left.
It’s full of brave, talented people and its place you can feel 100% safe to take risks. I’m so grateful for CTC and it will always have a special place in my heart.
Having fallen in love with acting and the arts at a young age, joining CTC allowed me to take my
journey to the next step. Working with the industry professionals was not only inspiring but taught
me the all important etiquette of working in a rehearsal room and with regular public showcases I
gained a lot of performance experience. It is with Cherwell Theatre Company my passion for acting
has grown and grown; Both Nasser and Tristan provided me with endless support throughout my
school and college years and play a vital part in my preparation for auditioning for drama schools
and professional work.
CTC is a safe and inspiring environment where you’re given the opportunity to explore the craft
with like-minded people and you will absolutely make friends for life! After training as an actor in
London, I look forward to one day sharing my experiences and knowledge with future CTC members,
in the hopes I inspire them as much as Nasser, Tristan and all at Cherwell Theatre Company have
done for me.