It’s 1995 and my sister Charlie Mortimer tells me to go to youth theatre, on the Saturday. Like always I obeyed my sister and took part in what was going to confirm my dreams and desires of being an actor. I joined ‘The Young Musketeers’ youth theatre company, which was ran by Jen Hayes and Brian Dodd, the drama session was on every Saturday and was conducted in the studio space of The Queens Hall, Widnes. This venue had become very important to so many local people old and young and it was certainly a place that I became very attached to as well. At the time, to me it was a place where I could be myself, a place where I could be creative, where I could make people laugh and cry.
But this was just my opinion of it, there were other young actors, directors, musicians, dancers and artists in Widnes, who used this venue to either work on their art or used it to perform on the grand stage that it provided. A stage that had some great performers visit it including The Beatles, The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Ken Dodd and local musical legend Greg Oldfield. To this day I feel honoured and humbled to the fact that me and many other young performers had been on that very stage and performed our art. From Cabaret nights, Band Nights and Shakespeare productions we all became part of this beautiful venues history.
The one unfortunate problem is the lacking amount of theatre productions that aren’t taking place in this studio space. A space that still retains that history and overall aura, which the Queens Hall gave to so many people. On the 24th July we at TBN are going to cure this problem and bring our latest piece of theatre ‘Safe Mode’ to our home ground. Personally it is a night, which will bring mine and Charlie’s Queens Hall saga to full circle. To have trained there, performed there and now bring work back there, we will both feel as if we have fully grown as creative individuals. That is all thanks to the original venue that set us on this wonderful journey. I hope that the 24th July brings back many familiar faces back to The Studio, Widnes. People who truly remember the good times this place brought. I hope they come to watch theatre that has been made with love and affection, theatre that was only possible because of the determination and inspiration that this very venue brought to our artistic director. I also hope this will also re-ignite the theatre community to start bringing productions back to Widnes. It’s a place that has such history in arts and entertainment that it would be sacrilege, to not even consider being part of that ever going history.
If you have any specific memories of the Queens Hall, that you would like to mention or talk about, feel free to leave a comment below it would be lovely to hear your memories of the place.