About Us

Company of Friends is a theatre company for adults with learning disabilities.

Founded in 2008 by the late John Rand, we have produced and toured a number of plays ourselves as well as dance and movement and visual arts projects.

John Rand snr

was a clinical psychologist who was responsible in the 60s and 70s for emptying the so-called ‘sub-normal’ homes and getting the so-called ‘inmates’ off crippling drug regimes and into the community. He firmly believed that people with learning disabilities could do much more than was then expected of them and that they could lead full, independent lives. He was ahead of his time in this respect. He died sadly in 2013.

He himself had a son who has Down Syndrome and who is now an indispensable member of the company. He was very aware that drama plays a huge part in the creative, intellectual, emotional and social development of everybody and not least people with a learning disability. They are often isolated, bored and under-stimulated by the very nature of their ‘condition’ and by the understandable difficulties their families and carers have in providing the vital networks we all need to thrive. And so, Company of Friends was born.

We first met up over coffee in the Sayers café in Bold St in Liverpool, but were later generously offered space in the Black-E Art Centre where we have been ever since.

Completely run by volunteers, Company of Friends has received some funding from the Lottery, the Morgan Foundation, the Hemby Trust, and the John Moores Foundation. We are looking to establish ourselves more firmly as a professional theatre company as well as an open access social hub.

The Blackie Liverpool

The discipline of workshops, devising, rehearsal and move- and line-learning promote a sense of individual and group achievement and more practically pave the way of one day making some sort of independent living.

Hence 'Independence Through Performance'

Company of Friends has put on an assortment of performances since its beginnings in 2008: Christmas shows like Peter Pan, Aladdin, The Wizard of Oz, Moby Dick and Dr Who.

We have also produced forum-theatre work based on Alice in Wonderland, directed by John Rand’s daughter, Helena.

We have performed outdoor theatre and dance with students from Edge Hill University and the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, worked with Tate Liverpool on an art project.

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