CryerArts open air festival

Amateur dramatics was a big part of my childhood, I starred as Michael in Carshalton Pantomime Company’s version of Peter Pan at the Secombe Theatre when I was just 10 years old. A little known fact is that Charles Cryer started the Pantomime Company in what was then Carshalton Hall, which would later become known as the Charles Cryer Theatre.

The Theatre was opened in 1991 by Prince Edward and was the forefront for amateur theatre in the London Borough of Sutton for many years. However, following a lack of investment by Sutton Council in 2016 both the Charles Cryer and Secombe Theatre shut their doors with the Council gutting the Secombe Theatre to try and claw some profit from their killing off of the arts in Sutton

In November 2019, the CryerArts Theatre reopened under new management and local residents were overjoyed to have a theatre back in the borough. In March 2020, the Lockdown brought a stop to the Theatre industry across the United Kingdom.

Being a local theatre, CryerArts relies on the help of volunteers and ongoing shows to keep its doors open. Shows were being cancelled and whilst CryerArts had been building a reputation as an up and coming theatre, its doors were closed as they were unable to safely let patrons inside.

On Sunday 26th July CryerArts reopened its doors, or at least its car park, to hold a small open-air music festival. Even though the music didn’t start until 1pm, by midday the volunteers were having to turn people away as they had become full. The support for the small theatre from the local community was completely overwhelming and just goes to show how the Borough has missed its only remaining theatre.

Numerous live acts volunteered their time, performing for free to help raise some much-needed funds to keep the Theatre from having to shut down again and the passion from these artists was clear - this was THEIR theatre - and its doors will stay open. 

I’m proud to have grown up acting in the Charles Cryer Theatre and the fact that they’ve managed to overcome so much in recent years is testament to the hard work and dedication of the board of directors and the volunteers.

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