Tackling tough talk with games and comedy

A Fife community theatre company has moved their unique blend of comedy to Kirkcaldy.

Thursday, 18th August 2016, 11:08 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 7:45 pm
West Mill Bridge - Kirkcaldy - Fife - Andrew Coull & Beth Hamilton-Cardus of community theatre comedy group SUIT & PACE with puppet characters Malcolm the mouse and Finn - credit - fife photo agency.

With a growing reputation for tackling tough issues with humour, theatre duo Beth Hamilton-Cardus and Andrew Coull have brought Suit and Pace from Lochgelly to the Lang Toun.

“I am from Kirkcaldy and Andrew lives here,” Beth said. “We are passionate about providing entertaining and engaging community theatre to Fife first and Kirkcaldy really is at the heart of the county so it made sense to move here.”

Supported by BRAG Enterprises Limited, a social enterprise formed in response to the decline of the heavy engineering and mining industries in Fife, Suit and Pace combine challenging topics such as mental health issues with comedy sketches to educate children, youth groups, pupils and vulnerable adults on subjects that are often hard to approach.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Beth explained: “We cover challenging topics such as mental wellbeing or issues facing refugees – it can be difficult for these groups to address these themes. Andrew and I work out how to use a story to illustrate it and get discussion going.”

Suit and Pace actively encourage the audience to take part in telling the stories through activities such as games or script writing, with comedy at its heart. “Fun and funny is more memorable for them so they will hopefully take away more from the sessions,” said Beth.

“We do things that are entertaining such as use puppets, songs and if the group is older they help us to make films and take part in helping to educate others.”

One of the current projects Suit and Pace are involved in is with Kirkcaldy High School, where a drama class has helped script a film to do with health and wellbeing. “They are participating and we know that those young people will have gained something extra because they have helped to tell the story,” said Beth.

Beth and Andrew are also well known faces at out of school clubs around Fife where they drop in, throw down a rug and some cushions and engage younger children in all sorts of storytelling,

“We try and be as flexible as possible,” she said. “Be it at a more structured school event or with younger children where the focus is different, we make the session interactive to teach them about specific issues and encourage confidence and creativity.

The duo also tour day centres with pieces developed specifically for vulnerable adults which address issues that affect their lives such as the Cuckoo’s Nest – a piece looking at disability-related financial harm.

Suit and Pace launched in 2015 and work with staff from councils, the voluntary sector and the arts to develop new partnerships.

“We are unique in Fife,” admitted Beth. “Most of our performance is free at the point of entry and we are passionate about making theatre, comedy and the arts as accessible as possible. “We think that whether you can afford a ticket price or not, you should be able to take part in a high quality performance.”