Our Story

1987-1991

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The first ever Toonspeak workshop took place on 28th October 1987.The name 'Toonspeak' was inspired by an old Scots phrase meaning "Talk of the Toon"! The original vision was to provide high quality theatre classes to young people within the local community, put on some big shows and take young people out to the theatre – not too far from what we still do today! This photo is of our first ever logo from back then. Some of the shows performed during this time were Bugsy Malone, Abigail's Party and Trackin' Back with the Springburn Writers Group (our very first production!)

Here's a photo of Glasgow Comedian Andy Cameron and an early Toonie. This is one of the first images of one of our young performers in the papers, one of many articles written about Toonspeak at that moment in time. A buzz had started around the fun things the company was getting up to, and how we were benefiting the community through arts. Articles are often written about us today – although digital and a bit more modern!

1992-1996

A busy year for us as we turned 5 years old! We had a big celebration in the then Springburn Museum, some of the photos from this are in the Glasgow Mitchell Library. Lots of productions took place during this time too, some of them written and developed by the company. These included performances such as, 'We had Sprogs' (1992), 'No More Long Faces' (1993), 'Skool for Clowns' (1995) and 'Billy Budd' (1996). Some future stars attended Toonspeak during this time - some names you might recognise include Iain Robertson, Rab Florence, Ian Connell, Louise Stewart and Stephen Purdon.

1997
Ten years strong

Toonspeak turned 10 this year – what a milestone! We had a wonderful party in the Springburn Museum again, bringing together past and present Toonies and their families to celebrate. We also held another production of Bugsy Malone with a new cast of Toonies – and it was just as big of a hit as the first time!

1998-2007

Toonspeak grew more and more over the years – with more groups wanting to collaborate and early Toonie’s who had made their way into the acting world of work had come back to create shows with us! Some of the productions included Blood Brothers, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Pandemillonium (A Peter Pan Panto!), Buzzin' to Bits and Roam?Eh?...No! with The Company. A few of our collaboratory productions included Dead End, Trackin' Back II, Perceptions and Teenage Sexual Health the Musical. From an early age, we've always been focused on giving young people a platform to talk about important topics to them and work together to create theatre to educate and inspire.

2008-2016

As we enter our 20's as a company, we showed no signs of slowing down! Performing Tall Ship Tales on the Tall Ship itself, creating a weekend long Festival of The Imagination in Springburn Park and challenging ourselves to make a Play In A Day in 2011 are just some of the more unusual projects we’ve had. Some of our bigger productions during this time included 87 Miles (with Ryan Youth Theatre in Stranraer), Just Get By and Lockdown. We have done some remarkable shows and projects, so much so that we were awarded The Group Young Award (Evening Times Community Champions) in 2012 and Scottish Charity of the Year, SCVO in 2014!

2017
Celebrating 30 years!

Toonspeak turned 30 this year, and what an exciting year it was! We moved into our new home on Quarrywood Road at BCDC in the heart of Barmulloch – back to where it all began. We also put on our first ever performance in the Tron Theatre, 'Ma Bit' - an original musical theatre show created by 40 Glasgow young people, directed by Libby McArthur. This was part of the Merchant City Festival – and was the perfect way to spend our big birthday!

2018-PRESENT

We loved our "big Summer show" so much, we kept it going! With 'TELT' (2018) directed by Mark Murphy in the Tron theatre and 'Time Oot!' (2019) directed by John Kielty in Platform, dozens of participants put in hours of hard work, both on stage as performers and backstage as stage management team, to create sell out shows! The summer of 2021 saw us take on an ambitious performance led film project. Working with the theme of climate change participants created monologues, poetry and scenes with director Kristin Mclean and the resulting film 'Protest Lab' can still be found on our YouTube! Since the beginning, we've stuck by our core values. With over 100 participants between the ages of 4-26 getting involved in workshops every week, each developing their theatre skills, confidence and making life-long friendships – we continue to strive for high quality theatre access for all, and we have no intentions of slowing down now!

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