In this piece for our #WhyIGive series, Kevin Walsh reflects on what the Warehouse has meant to him and his family.
I moved to Brussels as a stagiaire with the European Commission in 1984 and stayed on afterwards having secured a job in a law firm. At the time, there were a few of us in the same boat - Brian Hartnett, Damian Collins, Maurice Byrne and Mark Ronayne spring to mind. Early on, maybe 1985 or so, we sought out the amateur theatre as a supplement to our social activity. Strange that a bunch of lads should have similar interests! Anyway, we made our debuts in Hamlet by the Brussels Shakespeare Society, at the British School in Tervuren. We all had non-speaking parts (Norwegian soldiers and gravediggers) but Brian wangled a one-line part (the Sailor) - always good for the one upmanship. We got our revenge by sending him on stage in Act 2 instead of Act 3. The experience was magical. We were smitten and in the years that followed we all actively supported the 4 main theatre groups. As a result we were early and frequent visitors to the Warehouse.
By pure coincidence, I moved to Avenue Demolder (round the corner from the Warehouse) in 1990 and so when they were old enough, my 2 kids were regular volunteers painting sets and other jobs like that on Saturdays. My son was also in the Tailor’s Workshop by the ATG as an 8 year old… and it was a really seminal moment in his development. (We still quote his lines back to him to cause maximum embarrassment).
The Warehouse has so many good memories - the rehearsals; the wintry conditions; the tea and biscuits; the occasional beers; helping out with the sets, the construction - and so much more. Once the Studio Theatre opened, there are more good memories from the actual productions over the years. What I really enjoyed was that egos were left at the door and there was a great esprit de corps between actors and backstage/production crews.
I got so much out of amateur theatre during my time in Brussels whether as an actor, backstage or as theatregoer. I hope that the Warehouse will continue to provide this experience to others and especially the younger generation. So, I am happy to support this initiative and to give back something in recognition of what my family and I received in spades over the years.