Claire Waite Brown discusses why she felt the need to launch a course of fun, pressure-free theatre arts classes for adults

When I started looking into the possibility of joining a few dance classes, just for the sake of my own enjoyment, maybe doing a bit of singing, and perhaps learning more about acting too, it seemed my request was a tall order. Unless you are planning on making a career out of performing, or investing a lot of time into a performance project, the opportunities for grown-ups to practise theatre arts – for the sheer fun of it – can be difficult to root out.

I asked my peers if they knew of anything. We came up with a few dance classes, and of course the many wonderful non-professional theatre groups practising all over Oxfordshire, but it became clear that I was not the only person looking for an all-round theatre arts experience without the need to audition or put on a full-blown production, where you can feel comfortable even if you have little or no experience, with a sense of fun at its heart.

So I decided to start a class for myself, and Open Stage Arts was born. When I advertised for instructors, I quickly learnt that there are lots of good teachers out there who also believe that working with adults in a pressure-free manner is a great idea. Tanner Efinger and Roxy Rose are local to Oxford and very excited to get started, and after hearing of their ideas for the classes, I must say that I can’t wait either.

I studied Dance and Related Arts at university, and for three years spent most of my time in leggings and leotards (it was the 1990s) creating little pieces of theatre, and partaking in other people’s creations. While we were choreographing and directing, we were building special friendships. That friendship aspect is important to the ethos of Open Stage Arts. Even because when a group of strangers comes together for the first time, they will quickly get to know each other and learn that they don’t need to be constrained by their ‘grown-up’ inhibitions, and with shared interests in common, it won’t be long before new friendships are forged.

Open Stage Arts taster classes are being held on Wednesday, January 6, at Step by Step Studios in Headington and at Wheatley Park School. Book your place at