A regular slice of theatrical life by Emma Dolman, director of Cornerstone Arts Centre, Didcot

Well, our Cornerstone fifth birhday celebrations were absolutely amazing! Hundreds and hundreds of people through our doors over the weekend, happy faces everywhere, our councillors dancing with the lindy hoppers and lots of people trying things they never have before – and loving it.

On the Saturday afternoon after a full-on Friday night and a busy Saturday morning, I stood at the top of our first flight of stairs with one of our volunteers, looking at all the customers, listening to the Oyster Opera in disguise giving people a tingle down their spines, and a lump came to both our throats. Everyone had worked incredibly hard to make it happen and our customers were having a great time.

On the day we had a massive display of all our 62 shows and events we are having between now and Christmas. It looked very impressive and lots of people who hadn’t been for a while – or were new to Cornerstone – booked up. Whether it was to Georgie Fame or to Jeremy Hardy, Jacqui Dankworth or Waterson Carthy, Reduced Shakespeare Company or our fabulous Christmas show, or even to try our new Argentine Tango class – people found something they liked. We are a pretty humble bunch but we are proud of our Autumn season and one of the things we are most keen to shout about is our theatre programme.

We really have got some cracking top quality theatre In October, November and December and we want to tempt you to come and see it. These are the highest calibre companies, touring nationally and internationally and coming to Didcot.

Transport Theatre are visiting at the end of October with their superlative production of As You Like It. By the time you read this the production will have opened in Luxembourg, before it comes to the UK to tour great venues, hitting Cornerstone on October 25. We are delighted that the company held a production week here at Cornerstone back in the Summer. Theatre director Douglas Rintoul and five actors camped out in our rehearsal space for six days developing the piece, discovering the backstories of the charachters and generally charming all of us with their playfulness. They even went out into Didcot with their ‘Secret Shakespeare’ – basically approaching the general public and declaiming in Shakespearean language! A couple of my colleagues saw the play as a work in progress up at Central School of Speech and Drama and literally jumped out of their seats it was so gripping – so we are in for a treat.

Make sure you come along – it really is West End quality theatre right here on your doorstep. And if you like that you’ll probably be intrigued by Eyestrings Theatre’s daring version of the Duchhess of Malfi (my favourite text at A-Level) and the always excellent London Classic Theatre Company’s powerful version of Pinter’s masterpiece Betrayal. Now, I love a good ‘National Theatre Live’ at the cinema, but sometimes you just can’t beat the real thing.