• John Battersby

John Battersby


The year - 1997. The month - a dark and damp November evening. I can still recall the moment I first walked through the doors at Collis School to be warmly welcomed into YAT. Little did I know that evening would have a huge impact upon my life from that moment on…..

I was only 17 and had just started college. School chums were now spread far and wide, and my social life was at a standstill. I knew from an early age that I always wanted to be an Engineer and work in a technical capacity, so what on earth drew me to join a theatre group? The answer was a small, four line advert in the local newspaper, spotted by my Parents. They thought it would be good for me to get out of the house and mix with people of a similar age, and perhaps there could be a roll for me back stage to work on some sound or lighting.

It was local, within walking distance, and had potential, so what did I have to loose? From first stepping through the door, I was warmly drawn into a new bunch of people who had one clear objective - to devote their spare time to putting on a first class theatrical performance whilst becoming a unity of friends and enjoying a whole new social life together.

I became involved with many YAT shows over the course of the next few years and, of course, several other activities with people whom I had met through the group. I became involved in projects with those folk who I now knew as friends, and made industry contacts through trying to source lighting and sound equipment for the shows we would put on. I still have close contacts with these people & suppliers to this day.

A few years later, University forced me to move away for a couple of years, and then the beginnings of a working life meant I could no longer devote as much time to the group. But I had made my new friendships and gained such a vast wealth of knowledge and experiences, I would always hold these in high regard.

Sure enough, I became a back-seat member for many years, but still received the odd call to help out with making some fancy technical gizmo or contraption for a YAT play every now then. I love these little challenges and was glad to help out. A couple of years ago, I was asked back by Bill [Compton] to help assist with a technically complex musical which was being undertaken. How could I refuse?

So whilst I was now too old to be part of the core group, I helped out backstage and pulled on all of my industry contacts to put on a technical monsterpiece. The bug was back - I loved it and have been involved technically with a few shows since.

I am now outside of the official core age range, so have become a senior member, but I still love the buzz surrounding the group. From being the one sheepishly wandering in one evening with aspirations of perhaps one day being able climb a ladder and hang a light, I am now able to share the 15 years of industry experience I have gained with those who were my age when I started out at YAT. I feel I can now put a little bit back and inspire the next generation, as indeed I was inspired 17 years ago.

Being a part of YAT is more than simply becoming involved in a great, local theatre group who put on great productions. It is a lifestyle, and many involved will go on to have made friends and key contacts for life. The support the group gives to young people in gaining key skills and being a part of the local community is unquestionable. I for one feel proud to be a part of it.

To me, YAT is very much the quintessential definition of The Hotel California. You certainly can check out any time you like…. but you can never leave.

John joined YAT in 1997