Thetford theatre group is giving youngsters the skills to flourish on and off stage

The Wellmade Theatre COmpany which runs out of the Charles Burrell Centre in Thetford.

The Wellmade Theatre COmpany which runs out of the Charles Burrell Centre in Thetford. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

What links the following? Taking a job interview, telling a joke, making a speech, and hiding your hand in a game of poker.

The answer? They all require acting.

Whether we know it or not, we are all actors at one time or another, with the need to present ourselves differently in changing situations.

That is why the WellMade Theatre company is so important.

Based at the Charles Burrell Centre (CBC), the group trains budding actors of all ages, giving them the chance to improvise and create.

Along the way, participants pick up confidence and skills that are not just helpful when they are treading the boards, but could mean the difference between getting a dream job, or making a great Best Man’s speech.

Run by Vince Gregory, the group has been running in Thetford since 2003, moving to CBC when it opened 18 months ago.

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Its groups used improvisational techniques, as well as more structured sessions, to train actors aged from seven and upwards.

Mr Gregory said the group’s aim was to get people on to the stage, but that the skills they picked up along the way were invaluable.

“The ethos is to train their communication skills and presentation skills to help them gain confidence.

“We also give them help for auditioning if that’s what they want to do, and help with them qualifications if they need it.

“The main thing is that it’s a lot of fun though, and we always have a good time,” he said.

On a visit to their Saturday class, the session was full of energy and fun for the seven to 14-year-olds taking part.

Activities also had parents involved, with the chance to learn teamwork and be creative.

Among those taking part was 13-year-old Lauren Ottaviano, who has just gained her Level 4 acting qualifications from Lamda, having joined the group two years ago.

The Mildenhall Academy student said: “Coming here has really helped my confidence and diction, and I think I’ve really changed.

“I’d like to be an actor but this has helped me in other ways too.”

Chloe Aylott, 15, from Thetford, said she had started coming with a friend and now “loved it”.

“The people are really nice, no one is mean and I feel like I’ve learned a lot,” she said.

Parents are able to watch as the group works, with the chance to get involved at times.

Carl Jenkins, whose 13-year-old son Jack was taking part, said the group had helped his son.

“He wants to be an actor and this has really brought him out of his shell. He was pretty quiet with not much confidence, and now he can stand up in front of a crowd and act, it’s great,” he said.

The group meets at CBC on Saturdays from 10am to 1pm for seven to 14-year-olds. Adult classes take place from 7pm to 9pm each Tuesday. For more information, call Vince Gregory on 07861 003248 or 01842 765470.