Rainham drama group’s annual show of 26 years not to go ahead at Queen’s Theatre

PUBLISHED: 07:00 23 February 2017 | UPDATED: 12:09 23 February 2017

Members of the Lightnin' Drama Group. Picture: Lightnin' Drama Group

Members of the Lightnin' Drama Group. Picture: Lightnin' Drama Group

Lightnin' Drama Group

The founder of a drama group which has raised thousands of pounds for charity says they no longer feel supported, after Queen’s Theatre said it would not be able to accommodate its annual show this year.

Lightnin’ Drama Group, based at the Rainham Methodist Church, Ellis Avenue, Rainham, has been running for almost four decades, performing at smaller venues throughout the borough as well as its annual show at the Hornchurch theatre for 26 years.

But the group’s founder Sue Ospreay, 55, of Rainham, could not believe it when she received an email on Monday night from the venue stating that there are no three consecutive days available for their performance, which is usually scheduled for October.

“I was angered”, she said.

“We need one day to prepare and then two more for the performances so cannot do it in just one day.

“We have been performing there every year for 26 years and now we’re being told we can’t do it.

“Queen’s is the borough’s main theatre and is partially funded by the community - we are the community.
“This is injustice.”

Sue decided to put on a one-off variety show to help to save Oldchurch Hospital in 1980 which soon led to the birth of the Lightnin’ Drama Group.

Following each performance, the group - made up of about 70 members - also asks for donations towards Saint Francis Hospice after one of their members died of cancer - thousands of pounds have been raised by members.

She said: “I am passionate about bringing the arts to ordinary people but it feels like we’re no longer wanted.

“We work really really hard and it’s not being appreciated.”

A spokeswoman for the theatre said: ““The Queen’s Theatre is embarking on exciting new collaborations with other UK theatre makers and acknowledges their shift in programming patterns has had an impact on their long-term customers.

“We would like to express our apologies for impacting Lightnin’ Drama Group’s long-term show plans and are working positively with them to find alternative dates for their show.

“We value Lightnin’ Drama Group as well as other local arts groups as they bring theatre to the heart of our community.”

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