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Youth theatre provides a lifeline to young people looking for somewhere to express themselves

Regional youth theatres are often the first point of training for performers, theatremakers and backstage crew. They foster a love of theatre in thousands of young people every year, offering a place where everyone, no matter their background, is accepted and welcomed. They break down social barriers and show young people from all walks of life that their voice matters.

These companies tend to attract a wide variety of members as they keep fees low, normally between £40-£70 for a 10 to 12-week term, and places are available on a non-audition basis. The majority accept everyone regardless of talent, special needs or finances. It’s this inclusive attitude that makes the tapestry of the professional theatre world more diverse. Many people working in the industry from non-affluent backgrounds attribute their success to youth theatre.

Benjamin Purkiss, currently playing Captain Macheath in Theatre des Bouffes du Nord’s overseas tour of The Beggar’s Opera, believes the work he did at Ashford Youth Theatre in Kent changed him as a young actor. “I started at age 15 working on Shakespeare and classics and moved on to Pinter and more modern texts,” he explains. “It was an exceptional education for working-class actors who otherwise wouldn’t touch that kind of text until drama school, if they could afford it.”

There are many youth theatres across the country doing outstanding work. Ben Humphrey, associate director of the Swan Youth Theatre in Worcester, says: “We don’t look to create child actors, but to provide an inclusive, safe and creative environment in which young people can explore their abilities through a shared love of theatre. There are many professionals who have started their career with the Swan Youth Theatre and gone on to make their professional debuts with the Worcester Repertory Company or into further training. One of the most notable of our alumni is Rufus Norris, currently director of the National Theatre.”

Youth theatres train young people for a career in theatre, but they also go further. Dale Rooks, director of Chichester Festival Youth Theatre, explains: “Our young people often describe CFYT as a family and a place where they can be themselves, develop confidence and self-esteem. In addition to acquiring knowledge and theatre skills, many of them value youth theatre as a place where they feel they develop vital transferrable life skills.”

Aldgate Square Festival Theatre and Performance Workshops

Aldgate Square Festival is a fun-filled community celebration of all that Aldgate, and surrounds, has to offer. It will include a vibrant spectrum of music, dance, performance, food, games and theatre from around the East End and beyond, mirroring the cultural wealth of this fantastic area. 

Aldgate Square Festival is launching the new public square between 15th – 17th June 2018. The weekend will represent a creative collaboration between myriad groups, organisations; arts,educational and religious centres, businesses and individuals, showcasing the immensity of talent which resides in this unique corner of the capital, as well as the strength of its history.

The festival is the evolution of a Community Play project that was commissioned by the City of London in 2016, and which has been developing since. The community theatre elements of the festival will be drawing from the script which has been written by Artistic Director and Playwright, Jon Oram, in collaboration with community members and archives from across the area. The script is based on the history of, and social reform within Aldgate and the surrounding area. 

In the lead up to the festival, we are running a programme of theatre and performance workshops, a series of weekly workshops which will feed into performances at the festival. For all information, please contact Laura.Ratling@cityoflondon.gov.uk

An immersive performance in Canterbury's secret places

Canterbury at dusk, hooded figures rise in the city’s deepening shadows, ghosts of the old creed banished from the kingdom. The hunter and the hunted seek the signs which will unlock the doors hiding the truths of this restless world. What are ‘the strangers’ who share the new creed doing here? Why have they fled? A boy’s fate is sealed as a cold hand of history hauls him down into the darkness.

Guided by hooded avatars, Creed Of Spies fuses promenade play and an immersive experience for the audience to unlock the secrets of some of Canterbury’s most precious artefacts that conspired to shape the life and death of its most celebrated son, Christopher Marlowe.

Join The Marlowe Youth Theatre for a dramatic journey through the streets, up the walls and into the secret places of Canterbury.This is a promenade performance in a number of venues across Canterbury, starting in The Marlowe Foyer. Professional and amateur actors will welcome you within this fun and cultural theatrical piece.

 

 

National Youth Theatre of Great Britain

The National Youth Theatre of Great Britain is a world-leading youth arts organisation. Established in 1956 as the world's first youth theatre, they have nurtured the talent of hundreds of thousands of young people over 60 years. They inspire, nurture and showcase exceptional performers and theatre technicians from Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commissioning brave and relevant new writing and reinterpreting classic stories for our time.

They are ambitious as the young people they serve, platforming young talent on West-End stages, in stadiums world-wide and at iconic sites both homes and abroad. Their world renown alumni include: Helen Mirren, Daniel Craig, Colin Firth, Rosamund Pike, Daniel Day-Lewis, Orlando Bloom..

National Youth Theatre gives young people the opportunity to learn as much about themselves and how to relate to others, as they do about acting and technical theatre. Whilst some of their members go on to become well-known faces of stage and screen, many others go on to be great lawyers, journalists, doctors, teachers, entrepreneurs, CEO's and much more.

Last year, NYT awarded £140,000 of bursaries to young people in need to ensure that financial barriers do not prevent young people from reaching their full potential. 

English Playwright Philip Ridley's The Beast of Blue Wonder at ArtsEd

Philipe Ridley is an English storyteller working in a wide range of artistic media. As a playwright, he has been cited as a pioneer of 'In-yer-face theatre' with his debut play The Pitchfork Disney, considered by many to be a seminal work in the development of the style, with one critic even dubbing it the 'key play' of the 1990's.

A great number of his plays for adults have been perceived as controversial, met with both condemnation and high acclaimed upon their initial reception. As a writer for the stage, he's also recognised for creating a ongoing series of plays for young people (The Storyteller Sequence) and has written theatrical work for children and family audiences.

In the world of cinema, Ridley is perhaps best known for his award winning screenplay for the 1990 film The Krays, a biopic about the Kray twins which was directed by Peter Medak. As a film maker in his own right he created a loose trilogy of horror films for which he has acquired a cult following. 

This month, his latest play, The Beast of Blue Wonder, commissioned by ArtsEd, will be directed by Russell Bolam and performed by this year's graduating BA acting students. The play presents three different stories from three different times, all hurtling towards the same thing. The thing everyone fears the most.. The Beast of Blue Wonder! To book your tickets https://artsed.co.uk/whats-on/the-beast-of-blue-yonder

Ovalhouse South London's Theatre

Ovalhouse is a theatre in South London for innovative artists, adventurous audiences and young people with something to say. For the past 50 years Ovalhouse has been part of the London fringe, providing development and performance space to the experimental, radical and overlooked artists. Today Ovalhouse is known for theatre, performance and participation that speaks to a world beyond the main stream. 

Ovalhouse is a leader in its field for organisation involved in participatory work with children and young people, and continues to be a vital home for boundary-pushing art, artists and audiences with an eye on the future. They're currently based on the Kennington Oval right opposite the famous cricket ground. Open from Monday to Saturday, they offer a warm welcome to audience members, practitioners, patrons and workshop members.

A hotbed of artistic activism in the five past decades, Ovalhouse has seen the social and artistic ideals it has aspired to become widely recognised as the model for a better society. They have sheltered social and political movements staffed by the stage and screen stars of the future, pursued an unerring agenda for positive artistic political and social change, and once stabled a donkey in the theatre upstairs.

The roots of Ovalhouse can be traced back to the 1930s and its foundations by the graduates of Christ Church College, Oxford. The young people of disadvantage areas in South London were able to use the space for sport activities and were taken on away days along with skills training. Since that time Ovalhouse has pioneered enabling form of education and artistic endeavour.

 

 

Young Actors Theatre in North London

Young Actors Theatre is a community theatre in Islington, combining a drama school and a professional agency. They offer "drama for drama's sake" to the 3-24 years old with 650+ members, high quality low cost classes and performances. 

Young Actors Theatre believes that the arts can benefit everyone, and that money should not be a barrier to participation and training. The charity is supported by like-minded individuals and organisations to keep its classes at the cheapest level possible. Young Actors theatre gives children the opportunity to experience high quality affordable drama, singing and dance classes, workshops and productions that help build confidence and life skills, learn performance skills, encourage exploration and creativity, nurture talent and help develop careers in the performing arts.

Acting classes are the main activity at the Young Actors Theatre. The charity also offers a professional acting foundation course that enable students to develop an essential performance vocabulary through training in acting, movement and voice. The program offers an individual support for audition preparation and enjoys links with London Drama Schools such as Guidhall School of Music and Drama and Montview Academy. The foundation course gives the opportunity to work with respected professionals included ex-LAMDA teacher Yvonne Morley, Steve Brownie from RADA and Andrew Harries.