Welcome to Grass Roots

Grass Roots Theatre Group , based in Cawthorne near Barnsley, South Yorkshire, has been in existence for thirty years. Formerly known as Cawthorne Theatre Group, we have concentrated on working with young people between the ages of eight and sixteen.

Our name changed in the year 2000 when we performed our first community drama "One Breath" in a specially designed and built outdoor theatre in Cannon Hall Park. The play was written to celebrate the Millennium and a cast of one hundred of all ages played to full houses every night.

There have been three other community dramas: "Time and Chance" in 2004, "Profit and Loss" in 2008 and "A Distant Country" in 2010. Each one brought together a large number of people of different ages and interests. Many were not usual theatre goers; many had never acted or sung in public before; many were dragged in by enthusiastic partners or children, but one thing was common to them all: whether performing or working backstage, each one took pleasure in using their talents for a common purpose. Each community drama is always specially written and deals with local history, encouraging people to relate memories and stories passed on through the generations.

Our work with young people is ongoing, involving weekly workshops, occasional theatre trips and an annual production, which has included everything from melodrama to Shakespeare. Our junior and youth groups meet once a week during the Autumn and Spring school terms at either Silkstone or Cawthorne schools. We currently have a meembership of about 40 young people.

Our production team has worked together for most of the thirty years, ensuring that all aspects of our production achieve professional standards.

Our founder is Sylvia Le Breton. Sylvia studied drama at the Royal Northern School of Music and Drama and founded Grass Roots (formerly Cawthorne Theatre Group) when she moved to Barnsley from Salisbury in Wiltshire. Sylvia has written and directed numerous plays for children and has written and directed several large scale community dramas.

Caroline WheelerOur Director, Caroline Wheeler studied Drama and Classics at Hull University and has since been involved in every aspect of theatre production all over Yorkshire; her participation in various drama festivals taking her as far as Boston in the United States. Caroline has taken over the reins as Chairman and Director from Sylvia who, after 30 years, is taking a less active role in future productions.

Chris RishworthFor many years our producer was Chris Rishworth. Chris was with Grass Roots for 30 years. She appeared in one of the very first productions and we have only just let her leave! Chris took responsibility for the whole production. She looked after sponsorship, fund raising, ticket sales and records. Chis has now retired from Grass Roots but she leaves a legacy that will be hard to live up to!

Joan RimmingtonOur Wardrobe Mistress for many years was Joan Rimmington. Joan designed all the costumes for many of our youth productions as well as for our first two community productions; a mammoth task as in One Breath we had over two hundred costumes to prepare, ranging from early nineteenth century serving girls to Norman armour. Having acted herself, Joan cares deeply that the costume she makes is not only accurate historically, but also comfortable for the actor. Her favourite phrase is, "You've got to get the silhouette right". Joan "retired" three years ago but many of her costumes are still in use!

Pat SharpePat Sharpe has taken over from Joan and continues work with the same high standards. She was responsible for the costumes in "Profit and Loss" and "A Distant Country" and has also done many youth productions. Pat's ability to produce costumes at lightning speed is amazing; she's a veritable one- woman factory! Pat is currently busy at work manufacturing costumes and drapes for our forthcoming production of "Arabian Nights"

Both Joan and Pat would agree that without the army of seamstresses, who put in hours of work, they would not be able to do their job.

Lynda JenningsWe are lucky to have Lynda Jennings, a professional designer and visual artist, as our designer. Lynda has been responsible for all poster/programme design; each time finding the exact image which has summed up the essence of the play. Along with Keith Le Breton, she has also been responsible for the design of the set, specialising in "dressing" the structure to add texture, interest and atmosphere.

Keith Le BretonKeith Le Breton is involved in all aspects of the production, apart from making the costumes! With Lynda, he is responsible for designing and building the set; a considerable challenge when, as in Time and Chance" a full size beam engine is involved. Or as in "Profit and Loss" in Silkstone Church, a mine, including the working tunnels had to be built in front of a precious medieval choir screen. Keith has also worked with Phil Vickers on lighting and sound and just to round it off, for each of the community dramas, he has been responsible for filming, editing and producing a DVD of the production.

Again, we need to remember the vast army of (mainly) men, who have worked on set and props throughout the years.

So many people have been involved with Grass Roots over the years that it would be difficult to name them all, so here are just a few: Stephen Byrne, who has composed music for three of our productions; Jacquie Rowlands, our musical director for One Breath and Time and Chance; Lynne Sykes, who has been responsible for the music on many of our youth productions, Phil Vickers, who has done lighting and sound for three of the community dramas.

Grass Roots is a registered charity which could not function without the support of a strong management committee. At present the committee includes Caroline Wheeler, Lynda Jennings, Jenny Kukula, Pat Sharpe, and Keith and Sylvia Le Breton.