The beating heart of English-speaking community theatre in Brussels
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 73 in 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 60-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 as well as more recent arrivals and like-minded locals. Actors represent only a small portion of the talents we need to create a good production. We rely on talented artists and craftspeople to build sets, technical people to design and run sound, lights and effects, marketing experts to promote our shows, administrative people to 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 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. THE STUDIO When we purchased the Studio in 1994 it was an abandoned ceramics studio. A team of dedicated volunteers converted the space into a 60-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 endeavour would become to the future of community 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 Streetcar 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. 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 popular and accessible venue for all of the expat theatre communities in Brussels. Although we primarily service English-speaking audiences, we have had productions 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 ranges 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.
We are very proud of the heritage we have created and hope to continue our legacy for years, no decades, to come.
We call upon you, the expat community in Brussels, to help us carry out long overdue renovations in order for us to continue to be a home to so many creative productions which help Brussels be the hub of diversity it is.
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