Coulsdon amateur theatre director's life under the spotlight
ONE EVENING late last December, Richard Lloyd made his way to Coulsdon and gave in to something he had resisted for a long time.
The 50-year-old went to the community centre, got dressed up in gaudy women's clothes and took to the stage to deliver a blistering performance as one half of Cinderella's ugly sisters in the Christmas panto.
"People have been trying to get me to do that for years," he said. "Some actors love dressing up in women's clothes, but I am not one of them.
"I do not think I will do it again, but it was, I hate to say, immense fun."
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It was not even the most fun he has ever had in his decades as an actor, producer and director with Theatre Workshop Coulsdon (TWC).
He has been involved with the amateur theatre group – "my spiritual home" – since he was a starry-eyed teen back in 1981.
He has since written or adapted more than 15 plays which are performed worldwide, and played roles from boxer Daniel Mendoza to villainous King Claudius.
But his overarching role has been helping keep up TWC's reputation as more than the average amateur dramatic group, wielding a mix of business sense and ruthlessness not normally associated with the field.
He said: "We tend to do a 'banker' each year – a big summer show that allows us room to do things which are a bit more experimental during the rest of the year.
"We are free and easy in many ways. We do not have auditions and we will try and make the best of your talents.
"But if after a couple of tries it turns out that person is not that good at what they are doing, we will just sort of weed them out."
Coming from a long-line of theatrical types, Mr Lloyd – who grew up in Purley – nonetheless decided not to go into theatre as a career.
Instead his day job is the head of brand, people and marketing at BT, a job that allows him to pursue his creative passions free from money worries.
He said: "I thought I would try to find a job that pays me good money, do that for my working life and divert my creative energies to the theatre.
"A lot of people are fantastic musicians and actors but lead miserable, despondent lives because they never find that outlet for their talent.
"They do deserve it, but for every person that does make it there are a thousand people that do not."