Simon Wallace - director of Kitchen Sink Drama
PUBLISHED: 00:00 22 June 2020
Kimpton’s Simon Wallace, 46, teacher, director and founder of lockdown hit, Kitchen Sink Drama
Your Facebook idea Kitchen Sink Drama has been a hit in lockdown, tell us about it
The basic premise of Kitchen Sink Drama is for people to record about two minutes of scripted drama and perform it from their kitchen sink. These are then posted for group members to try and identify the play and the character. The range of scripts being presented is quite vast. Shakespeare is popular, as is Ayckbourn, but there is also real variety. Some have produced excerpts from musical theatre, others have performed screenplays or television scripts.
Have you been surprised at the project’s success? Kitchen Sink Drama was never intended to be ‘a thing’ – my initial video, The Woman in Black, was posted to my Facebook page as a bit of a giggle. I’m not an actor and therefore the irony of the extract I chose would not have been lost on my friends. However, something must have resonated with others as more people started to post their own videos. Within three days we had a Facebook group, an expanding repertoire of videos, and an even more expanding membership. At the last count we had over 150 videos and almost 700 members; we even have a YouTube channel now!
We have contributors from theatre groups including Lace Market Theatre in Nottingham, and the Saddleworth Players. We also have people from as far away as New York and Hanoi posting their kitchen sink dramas.
You’re not an actor but you do have a deep relationship with the Barn Theatre in Welwyn GC, how so?
My interest in drama was sparked at school. I had a fabulous drama teacher who encouraged me to join the Barn Theatre. I have been a member there for 32 years, having graduated through their youth group on to lighting and sound design, and then into directing. I also do other stuff for the theatre, mainly their production and promotional photography, but also a bit of poster design. The Barn, I guess like most theatrical communities, is a bit like an extended family. I have essentially grown up there and the people I have met through the theatre have had a fundamental influence on my life; the same drama teacher encouraged me to go into the profession – I teach drama and English at St George’s School in Harpenden. She remains a good friend who I continue to be inspired by (she has posted a few Kitchen Sink Dramas too). Outside of direct family, it is the friends I have met there that I miss during lockdown.
What do you attribute Kitchen Sink Drama’s success to?
It’s a project that I believe is bringing some much-needed entertainment to audiences missing their local theatre fix. It is also providing a creative output for others who I would not have associated with performing – some of the most surprising videos have been posted by non-actors who have chosen to step well out of their comfort zones. I think we will sustain it for as long as this pandemic keeps the theatres closed and then finish off with a kind of awards ceremony. In the interim, I might start pestering a few local professional actors to get involved!