Hope Theatre Café - update Mar11

Monday, 14 March, 2011

'Quite a lot has changed since our story was first told to Fresh Expressions,' says Anne Middleton. But the Hope Theatre Café organiser and her minister husband, Revd Darren Middleton, are delighted that the major difference comes in the shape of their 13-month-old daughter Grace...

This year we have a limited season of events in March, June and July; partly because it is just so difficult to organise anything with a baby! But also because Darren and I are putting on a Passion Play in the circuit in the week leading up to Good Friday.

Our first event this year will be on March 5 with Silhouette Theatre Company. We'll then have a break in April and May for the Passion; then we welcome Lantern Theatre Company in June to perform The Hiding Place. Gospel illusionist Steve Price will be our guest in July.

We are still at Christchurch URC/Methodist in Fairwater, Cardiff, and the URC have been brilliant at funding us as a mission group. They gave us quite a large grant to set up the café in the first place and then we had another grant to help us get, amongst other things, a projector; this will also mean that we can offer film afternoons for older people in the community.

We have had two successful seasons of Hope Theatre Cafe. We continue to see it very much as a place where people can bring friends and family. For instance, a lot of husbands come along who don't go to church because Hope Theatre Café is very 'neutral' territory. Someone has even said, ironically, 'you wouldn't get me in a church'. We are in a community hall building so they don't think of us as being 'church-y' at all.

A few of those who have been to a performance then come into the church but it's a very gradual process. The local Churches Together group is very supportive of what we do and see it as a local resource.

It's encouraging that the Hope Theatre cafe team is growing. It's good that two couples from the church have committed to helping to run it, along with the faithful woman who organises the refreshments. Darren is training the two men up to do the technical side of things. At the moment no-one wants to take on the organising of the theatre bookings but it is good to see these other leaders coming through at this stage. I really hope that they will step up even more this year as it's possible that Darren and I will be moving on in two years. It is our hope that Hope Theatre Café will continue without us.

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