The Shysters’ night to shine

The red carpet was rolled out in Coventry last night for the premiere at the Belgrade Theatre of what was billed “The Shyster Theatre Company in Collaboration with Rick Medlock presents the making of theatre – an actor’s journey”.
The documentary focuses on the work of the Shysters theatre company, a group of learning disabled actors. There’s no voiceover commentary, it just follows a small group of performers as they go about their rehearsals in the lovely if slightly ramshackle surroundings of Coventry’s former court building at Drapers Hall.

They go over techniques which will help them in their acting – and in everyday life. Staring into one of the building’s huge mirrors they are encouraged to properly enunciate a tongue twister. Picking out costumes they are encouraged to explore the clothes and grow into their character through the materials.
At times the action cuts away to one of the most accomplished actors answering questions from the acting teacher about why he’s in the Shysters and what he has got out of it. Then it’s back to seeing him scaring some of the other performers by the intensity of his performance as a man who’s pulled out his own heart.
The film was made by Rick Medlock, who’s based in Earlsdon, Coventry, with a soundtrack by Pete Every. The night was treated as a Hollywood premiere, with a black tie and gowns dress code, and champagne before and afterwards.
However no one seemed to know exactly what happens next with the film. Rick said it will get shown around the world, but will it get more showings in Coventry? Lavish praise was heaped on it, and it was stirring to see what work is going on and what the performers obviously get out of it, but it needs a wider audience.
As the performers and premiere guests took their seats there was a slideshow of Rick’s photos of the performers in rehearsal – surely they deserve an exhibition of their own?


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