Bognor comedy club helping people gain skills through theatre

Hilary Strong, who runs the club and is director of Making Theatre Gaining Skills
Hilary Strong, who runs the club and is director of Making Theatre Gaining Skills

A comedy club in Bognor Regis is helping people with employment issues gain vital skills.

The Bognor Institute of Laughter, which is funded by the People’s Health Lottery and supported by Making Theatre Gaining Skills, is an all-inclusive comedy club helping members to gain skills to make them more employable and have fun.

Tara Cowley in one of the groups productions, Bognor Sunshine Today

Tara Cowley in one of the groups productions, Bognor Sunshine Today

Hilary Strong, who runs the club and is director of Making Theatre Gaining Skills said: “The aim is to help people to become more employable and to gain more skills like team work, problem solving and task management and we do it through the making of a theatre production.

“It’s not about acting.”

The initiative started getting funding in October 2017 from the People’s Health Lottery.

In a previous role, Hilary spent five years as director for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Ginny Adams

Ginny Adams

A fan of comedy she cited some of her favourites as Eddie Izzard, John Shuttleworth, and called the late Victoria Woods, the ‘greatest sketch artist ever’.

On how the all started, Hilary said: “I got very interested in how backstage work could help people become more confident and less anxious.

“Alot of people are very nervous about team work and it is terrifying for some people.

“A typical participant might have been out of work for quite a while and may have social anxiety or depression.

Creative writer with the club, Richard Mahaffey

Creative writer with the club, Richard Mahaffey

“It’s all kinds of different people – anyone can join.”

Hilary added that while most people use the scheme to gain skills and enjoy themselves, there are some who take part and decide they want to do it professionally.

“It’s opening them to all kinds of different employment.”

The group meets every Wednesday evening at 6pm at the Lamb Inn in Steyne Street. The group is also looking for a building to move into as a permanent home.

See the scheme at work at the group’s show on March 22 at The Waverly pub.