HELEN E. SHARMAN
Artistic Director, The Young Theatre (at Beaconsfield) : 1990-97
Helen was born in Dudley, West Midlands - into a theatrical family. Her parents both acted in amateur theatre and her father was Chairman of the Old Dudleians Dramatic society forever ! She had her first taste of directing age 14 at King Edward VI High School, Edgebaston. The play was dreadful - The Crimson Coconut - but her leading lady was amazing and is now known as Lindsay Duncan. Her first part was as an Irish nun for the ODDS - she was brought in at three days notice - no change there then.
More drama at Manchester University, despite studying Psychology, she appeared in two medic revues - including a forgettable performance as Little Weed. After graduation, she moved to Newcastle to become the first female marketing executive for Proctor and Gamble - mainly because she was told P&G didn’t take women. She worked on Daz and joined the People's Theatre. There, while she was playing a nymphomaniac and he was doing the can-can with no trousers, she met John, himself a founder member of The Young Theatre (at Beaconsfield).
Daz turned out to be something of a strain - chauvinistic attitudes and too many numbers - so she became a social worker in Gateshead. Helen and John married in 1975 and held the reception in the grounds of Dudley Zoo. One of their guests had a long trunk and tusks and she claims to be the only bride with elephant spit on her dress!
The couple moved back to Bucks., and John introduced her to the Beaconsfield Theatre Group where she became very much involved in all aspects of BTG, serving on the committee and becoming Group Chairman for a number of years. Her acting roles have ranged from Puck to Doris in the two hander Same Time Next Year and later she played Doris again, this time in The Cemetery Club. She also directed Dead Guilty and The Killing of Sister George, and - as luck would have it - it was when she was directing Woman in Mind for BTG in 1989 that a certain Mark Britton, who was in the cast, “persuaded” her to become actively involved in The Young Theatre at (Beaconsfield) as an Assistant Group Director to Bill Tapley - and the rest is history. Apart from being YT's Artistic Director for seven years, she has also directed a number of YT productions including Blithe Spirit (1992); Antigone (1993) and Daisy Pulls it Off (2001) - whilst in 2002 she stepped in, at only a week's notice, to play Mother in Billy Liar - with her own son as Billy! In fact both her children, Becky and Peter were heavily involved with YT, but so far, none of the dogs have appeared on stage. This is a good thing! While the children were small, Helen wrote comedy sketches for TV - Naked Video and Russ Abbott. About 7 years ago, Bums on Seats, a publicity handbook, was published - and the board room battle over the title remains legendary. Her second book, Directing Amateur Theatre was published in 2004 and as recently as 2013 was to be found in the NT bookshop; and work continues on a novel.
She fulfilled a lifetime ambition to follow in her father‘s footsteps when she was accepted as an associate member of the Guild of Drama Adjudicators, and is now a full member of GODA, working as far afield as the Shetland Islands and, in 2014, will be adjudicating in Teeside.