Opportunities For Young People In Theatre

September 3, 2009
TheBigBreak2

The Big Break

This week see’s the National Theatre in connection with Spine Breakers launching ‘The Big Break‘, a young scriptwriter competition. Aimed at 13 to 18 year olds the competition gives the chance of adapting Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now, through working with top directors, writers and actors at the National Theatre by seeing your words brought to life.

Whilst this is a great opportunity for young people to get their writing skills in action leading for a fantastic opportunity at the National Theatre, it does leave me pondering what other opportunities are out there for young people/teenagers in actively engaging within the arts (or mostly theatre).

Of course the National Theatre is constantly striving to work towards promoting themselves as an establishments that works closely with Young People, and nurturing the next generation of Theatre Makers. The New Connections programme at the National Theatre actively seeks new talent from groups of schools and youth groups, leading to presenting their work in the main spaces of the National Theatre and working closely with well known writers. Sadly however, New Connections will be closing their doors for a while as they re-establish themselves within the National Theatre… so how does this gap get filled?

Battersea Arts Centre

Battersea Arts Centre

The Battersea Arts Centre,  (BAC) springs to mind when thinking about the opportunities for young people. Their Young Peoples Theatre (YPT) gives 12 – 25 year olds the ‘chance to experiment, create and perform original theatre on a professional stage’. Often working with notable directors and practitioners, YPT are an energetic group of young people.

Although I’ve not been to one of their shows at the BAC I watched a paneled discussion on young people within theatre and the impact upon theatre work and audiences. The YPT members present certainly reminded myself of when I was of an age at a ‘young theatre group’, bursting with the desire to perform and be in theatre. I can certainly see stars in the making from YPT.

LyricYoungCompanyAnother well established theatre working with young people comes in the form of the Lyric Hammersmith. New International Company of Live Arts (NICOLA) the Lyric Young Company were outstanding in their delivery of talented young people. Everything from poetry, monologues and dance was thrown in. There seems to be a real flare within this programme with great results.

Whilst I have highlighted a few of the well known Young Peoples Theatre programmes around London there must be other opportunities for young people dotted all over the city with relation to theatre. There still needs to be more, as most of these groups are highly sought after and over subscribed with waiting lists.

I have spoken about in the past how the future of theatre relies upon the younger generations in bringing new creativity and energy into theatres. What I would love to see is a revolution where the younger generations have their time in taking over the theatres. Often us adults get caught up in being adults and lose all our sense of play and creativity. Why not take a moment to observe the younger generations and feed that energy into theatres, or better still allow that creativity to enter theatres directly through more Young Peoples Theatre organisations.

The time for theatre in the hands of the Younger Generations is upon us, but will you allow it?

If you are under the age of 25 and interested in finding out more about getting involved in theatre, then A Younger Theatre recommends Get Into Theatre.org for more information and opportunities.


A Wider Coverage: London Theatres

June 24, 2009

I was recently asked by one of my followers on Twitter an interesting question [and for those wishing to, you can follow me here]. She had been debating about theatre’s in London that deserved a wider coverage. Her boyfriend believed that the two most in question were that of the National Theatre and the Royal Court Theatre.

What stuck me as rather odd was that of all the theatre’s, the two chosen were ones that already have a wide coverage, in my opinion.

The National Theatre being our country’s National theatre, the theatre that is meant to represent England and the finest theatre that we have to offer. [Here I’m sure some people are possibly thinking otherwise, and yes I would also agree at times.]

The Royal Court has certainly built it’s name into the theatre history books, with them being one of the leading theatre’s to commission and encourage new writing and who we have to thank for Sarah Kane, Mark Ravenhill being introduced into the theatre world.

But these theatre’s have their place within our society, within the industry and truly within our hearts, but what about other theatre’s that deserve a wider coverage and appreciation? Perhaps it would be fair to state that all theatre’s deserve more audiences, more money and more praise for the work that is put into them, but this isn’t beneficial for anyone. Therefore after careful consideration I’ve listed a few theatre’s which I believe deserve a wider audience:

Battersea Arts Centre

Battersea Arts Centre

The Battersea Arts Centre [BAC] – Perhaps I’m biased because I truly love this venue. Run by a vibrant team. The BAC is a beautiful grade two listed building that was once Battersea Town Hall. There are multipe rooms and chambers in which a whole variety of performerances take place. What I really appreciate about the BAC is its commitment of delierving a diverse program and scheduling. Even down to the flyers and season brochure, the BAC just screams creativity.  Finally one of the reasons why I truly am taken with this venue is the vast array of opportunities that can be grabbed. The BAC is well known for it’s Scratch Nights where new performers / writers / directors can put on small showings of their work to a willing audience to test-drive the work. Lastly, the BAC’s continual commitment in hosting numerous festivals which bring together some of the most defining contemporary work from around the country into one place: The Burst Festival and The Graduate Festival being the hightlights.

Camdens Peoples Theatre

Camdens Peoples Theatre

The Camdens People’s Theatre [CPT] – There might be a theme building in relation to the theatre’s that I am picking and this can certainly be seen between the BAC and the CPT. Contemporary, new, bold and challenging work seems to be key in these venues and the CPT is great for this. A rather unknown venue when it comes to the grand scheme of things, it features a rather delightful small black box studio. What I love is just how small this venue is, there is a real sense of excitement where new experimental work really finds it home here. The CPT is a place of opportunity for new emerging theatre companies and practitioners to find their ground and allow magic to take place. Another highlight is the Sprint Festival which is currently underway, allowing a whole months worth of experiemental theatre to take to the limelight.

Both the BAC and CPT without a doubt deserve more attention, a wider coverage of audience and appreciation amoungst industry proffessionals and spectators.

What I hope people will appreciate here is that it’s not always the big theatre’s that are funded nationally by huge organisations that deserve constant praise – it’s the smaller, less funded companies that really offer some of the most exciting theatre. These are the theatres that deserve a great appreciation and coverage.

There are many, many more, and it will be interesting to hear your views on which theatre’s you think deserve that little bit more, so do feel to comment or get in contact.

I would even say that ALL fringe based venues and theatres deserve more everything, audiences, money, and so on… So if anything, why not visit one of the small more contemporary theatre places around London? You might just find that you’ve been missing something rather special.

For out of small spaces come some big ideas.

BAC Website – http://www.bac.org.uk/

CPT Website – http://www.cptheatre.co.uk/