Storm Cloud Theatre are a brand new theatre company based in Winchester, Co-directed by Rory Blincow and Rosie Lewis, They aim to focus on three aspects of theatre, workshops, networking and performance. They are working with Inspiring Enterprise to brush up on their business skills. I caught up with Rosie to find out how it was going….
Tell us a bit about your theatre company….
Storm Cloud is a theatre company run by myself and Rory Blincow and we are both alumni of University of Winchester, we both have a love of the theatre and we both have creative degrees, Rory in Vocal and Choral Studies and myself in Literature and Drama, throughout uni we both did lots of performance but also both took on more directorial roles at times and through our degrees we realised that we loved using theatre as something more, so theatre as a cultural action, theatre for wellbeing and theatre for education. We became hooked on that idea, we both reached a point in our lives where we were deciding what do to next so we decided to just go for it and focus on what we loved, so that became the workshop aspect, the performance aspect and the directorial aspect of theatre. We thought “let’s just give it a go” and it turned into Storm Cloud Theatre! We sat down together and we thought about what we wanted to focus on. We wanted to help others and we want to pursue our passion for the arts so we made a plan and now we work on 3 aspects, so that’s workshops, for people in the arts to widen their horizons or for education, theatre for wellbeing, and theatre as education such as Shakespeare, we also work on something called The Network where we interact with other creatives and help them gain exposure and we create shows for aesthetic or entertainment or education purposes.
How did you get involved with Inspiring Enterprise?
We saw an advert on the university intranet and I thought it sounded interesting so we sent in an email, the next thing we know we had a meeting with the Project Officer. We were really interested in learning about the business side of things as we both know that we can teach but knew that we had a lack of knowledge on the business side so that really appealed to us. Also the discussions about how to find funding really appealed to us as well.
How has Inspiring Enterprise helped you along the way?
The most useful thing for us were the weekly workshops we went to, providing knowledge of business essentials, it completely opened our eyes to what a business actually is and what is involved. The most useful one for me because I am the social Media Manager of the company was the workshop on social media as it made us realise how important it is for marketing and raising profile, since that workshop we have taken what we learned and applied it to my role, and our social media engagement has gone up tenfold, we get lots of interaction on Facebook and especially Instagram, that’s a really good platform for our company as we can show what we do. That was really useful for me. Rory does funding and things like PLI and policy writing which were things we had no clue about so the workshops that covered those things have really helped us out. It’s really prepared us for how to run a company.
What is the best bit about running your company?
We are doing something that we love and we get to see how it effects other people as well, so for example we are working on a project called Shakespeare Stimulus and we got a group of creatives together through an audition process and we have started reworking the work of Shakespeare and to see them gain knowledge through that, to understand Shakespeare better and language and performance better and watching them gain confidence. That’s what we really love and that’s what is keeping us going at the moment, we’re doing something that we love and we’re helping other people gain knowledge and life skills through it.
What have you found most challenging about setting up a theatre company?
The most challenging thing for us at the moment is time management as we both have other commitments, because it’s not bringing us any money yet, it’s difficult to give all of our time to it, we want to, but we do have to make money whilst we work on it, so it’s finding the time to sit down and work on the boring stuff I guess, writing out the contracts and the policies. We can always find time to do the fun stuff but it’s making time to do all the less fun but really important stuff as well.
How do you discipline yourself to do the things that are less fun?
We have written a plan of how much time we need to spend a week working on Storm Cloud and we each have a set amount of time that we dedicate to working on our individual sections of the company and we aim to spend 3 hours a week together working on the company.
We also have a whole day each month that we dedicate to working on the company together so we get together and plan or improv.
Knowing that people are relying on us is a huge motivator for us, if we have a workshop and we haven’t planned for it then people won’t get anything out of it and we would feel like we had let our participants down.
How did you come up with the name Storm Cloud?
When I was young I was terrified of thunder storms and as I grew up and went to uni and I got over my fear, I brought a necklace of a storm cloud with a lightning bolt because I thought it was pretty, so when we were brainstorming names I was wearing the necklace and we thought Storm Cloud was a good name. No one was using it and the company is about facing fears and challenges.
What advice would you give anyone thinking of doing something similar?
Make sure you still have a love for it, so when you’re doing the less interesting stuff like writing contracts. it is because it means you can do something you love. Be aware that it isn’t going to happen overnight. Storm Cloud isn’t our full time venture yet and we know that it will take a long time before it’s a fully-fledged venture and we can live off it, which is why you have to have a passion for it and if it stops becoming your passion or fun, take a step and a breather before coming back to it and hopefully reigniting that passion. To start a venture like this straight off you have to be really passionate about it. It’s a lifestyle and not just a job.
What is your ultimate goal and what is next for you both?
Our ultimate goal for the company is to have our own venue, a theatre with separate workshop spaces with sprung floors and mirrors and an area where people can study as well. It will be a theatre and learning space, we would like a kitchen area and a small space for people to stay. We want to be able to provide people with well facilitated rehearsal spaces, and a place where people can feel included and can have a proper creative education.
Our next task is to launch The Network, we are running the first session here in Winchester University and it will be a chance for creatives to get together and share ideas, show work, connect.
Next year we are running a series of weekly sessions, which will be physical dynamic workshops, one will be Introduction to Drama Games, as they form the basis of a lot of shows and workshops, and are great for confidence building, and one will be Skills for Performing Shakespeare.
Theatre for wellbeing, how to look after your voice, and take care of yourself, confidence building and
You can find out more about Storm Cloud Theatre by looking at their website and social media channels.