In 1994, the American Theatre Company, the English Comedy Club and the Irish Theatre Group purchased a complex now known as The Warehouse at Rue Waelhem 69A, 1030 Schaerbeek. It houses a club room, two rehearsal rooms, a workshop for set construction, a props room, a costume room and storage space for sets. The groups also bought the adjoining ceramics workshop, which was then transformed into a 65-seat studio theatre.
The three groups set up an organisation called CAST to manage the complex. Since then, many other community theatre and performance groups have used the Warehouse to support their activities.
With an expat community of over 200,000 in Brussels, our community of English-speaking theatre groups has offered a place of belonging, friendship and artistic expression to both long-term expats and people who called Brussels home for only a few years.
To put on a show, actors represent only a small portion of talent that we need to create a good production. Talented artists and craftspeople build sets, technical people design and run sound, lights and effects, marketing experts promote our shows, administrative people keep the groups running. A show with 5 actors will have a team of 20-50 people involved to create the live experience that our audiences enjoy.
Over the 30 years of the Warehouse, hundreds if not thousands of dedicated volunteers have contributed, each in their own way, to the legacy and reputation of quality English speaking theatre. CAST groups alone produce about 8-10 shows each year, and if we include associated groups our community offers 15-20 shows per season.
The Warehouse has been home to the ATC and ECC since 1987 when we moved our set-building, storage and rehearsal spaces all to a central location in Schaerbeek. In 1994 the ITG joined the team and we purchased the property to make it our permanent home.
Since then it has become a haven and resource for a wide variety of English-speaking performing arts in Brussels.
In the time we have owned the property, +-400 shows have been rehearsed there, +-250 sets have been built there and over 100 community events & social evenings have taken place. We have also hosted numerous workshops and courses for all aspects of theatre; acting, improv, hair, make-up, stage management, lighting… etc. along with many youth courses and workshops.
When we purchased the Studio in 1994 it was an abandoned ceramics studio. A team of dedicated volunteers converted the space into a 65-seat Studio theatre which has since been licensed to serve as a commercial venue for performing arts.
When these visionaries converted The Studio into what it is today, even they didn’t know how essential this endeavor would become to the future of English-speaking theatre in Brussels.
At the time, theatre venues were readily available and rents were within our reach. Between us we produced 6 Main Stage productions each year at a variety of locations spread throughout Brussels; the British School of Brussels, The Palais des Beaux Arts, Theatre Senghor in Etterbeek, to name a few. These productions were mainstream plays that our audiences were familiar with such as Street Car Named Desire, The Importance of Being Earnest and Waiting for Godot.
The intention of The Studio theatre was to give our community an opportunity for experimentation and artistic expression. It was to nurture the arts and artists here in Brussels in a deeper and sometimes more provocative way. With a home-owned theatre, rents were no longer an issue so our creative talents could take risks with lesser-known works, or those with a more niche audience.
In the meantime, the world has changed qround us. Previous venues are often no longer available for us to rent or out of our price range. The Studio has become a lifeline for our creative expression.
90% of our shows are now performed at The Studio and we have become and popular and accessible venue for all of the expat theatre communities in Brussels. Although we primarily service English speaking audiences, we have had production in several languages, serving many of our fellow European expats.
The cultural and socio-economic diversity of our group cannot be overlooked. Not only do our members hail from all over the European Union (Belgian, French, Spanish, Italian, Greek, German and more), membership also includes a range from top corporate executives and diplomats to students and young entrepreneurs. To mount our productions we need such a broad skill-set that there is a place for everyone and we welcome newcomers with open arms to join our common goal of providing top-notch theatre in Brussels.
CAST is the Cooperative Association to Support Theatre which owns and supports the Warehouse. It is run by 3 groups collectively, The American Theater Company (ATC), the English Comedy Club (ECC) and the Irish Theatre Group (ITG), but our facilities are used by a wide variety of International theatre communities in Brussels who are also stakeholders in the survival of The Warehouse.
Other Groups in our Community
Brussels Light Opera Company (BLOC)
Brussels Shakespeare Society (BSS)
ECC Youth Summer School
English Youth Theatre
Festival of European Theatre Societies (FEATS)
Green Parrot Productions
The Ghost Sheep