Separate Doors 3. 21st February

Aspley Basin, Huddersfield

Yesterday after returning from the boat yard I headed off to catch a train to Huddersfield to go to work!

I’d been invited to attend a Separate Doors 3 masterclass at the Lawrence Batley Theatre, to do sketches throughout the day of a rehearsal process called the Silent Approach. Vanessa Brooks developed this approach to enable acting companies with learning disability actors to work alongside none learning disabled actors on a level. As it’s title suggests it is a silent method.
I have been involved with Dark Horse Theatre in the past, having designed a couple of shows for them. A couple of years ago I joined them on workshops they were doing for a play that Vanessa was writing so have experienced the Silent Approach before.


Wednesday evening I met up with Vanessa and a hole host of  people who were involved with the masterclasses. A very nice curry was had by all at the Chilli Lounge, highly recommended should you be in Huddersfield.

Huddersfield Broad Canal
Quay Street Locomotive Lift Bridge

In the morning the sun was out so I walked in to the theatre along the Huddersfield Broad Canal, a nice walk before the day started.


Today was the last of three days of masterclasses, each one of them having been tailored to different participants. Tuesday had been for directors, Wednesday for Theatre makers and today was for Writers. Amanda Whittington, Nick Lane, Deborah McAndrew, Lisa Evans, Robert Shearman and Judith Johnson were the writers, several of them I know and have designed some of their shows. It was lovely to see them again and meet new people.

Silently directing

Seeing the Dark Horse Ensemble again was great. They are trained actors most of whom have Downs Syndrome, you always get a very warm welcome from them.

The day was an intense one for all. Concentrating, being drawn in to what was happening in the room,quite an emotional experience. I also don’t think I’ve ever spent so much time sketching, it’s also a long time since I’ve done any life drawing as you can get away with dodgy human forms in costume drawings.

Everyone on their feet following the not so Silent Approach

It was great to see everyone in the room (apart from me) joining in in the afternoon doing a line dance from Snakebite. I knew the moves but was too busy recording it to draw later. Excerpts from some of Vanessa’s plays were rehearsed and directed using the silent approach.

I’ve come away with a good dozen sketches that need a bit more work doing to them and plenty of photos to do more from.

A quick drink in The Head Of Steam at the station with everyone before I caught a train back to Sheffield.

Igloo, every canal basin needs one

Meanwhile whilst I was earning, Mick Tilly and Oleanna started to get surrounded by preparations for the Birthday Bash at Victoria Quays. Face painting on the benches next to Oleanna went on through the afternoon and a large igloo was erected not far away for the silent disco tomorrow. We’ll move out in the morning to make way for the the brass band that will lead the flotilla in to start off the celebrations for the bi-centenary.

Actors and Director

0 locks, 0 miles, 3 trains, 12 for curry, 1 canal walk, 1 Dante back on the sauce, 3rd Separate Doors, 8 Dark Horse actors, 3 actors, 1 director, 6 writers, 0 beef stew, 137 photos, 12 sketches started, 1 very privileged Pip to have been included, 1 igloo, 1 Tilly pleased to see me, Mick was too.