In March, the Coronavirus pandemic meant that our regular Youth Theatre sessions had to stop to ensure our young people’s safety.
At the time, our young people had been working on different plays in preparation for their end of term sharings. Ranging from Klassen’s I Want my Hat Back to Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter, our young people had learnt their lines, prepared their costumes and rehearsed their scenes.
Whilst the postponement of our face-to-face activities didn’t exactly take them by surprise, it was certainly sad to think about all the hard work they had put into their performances that were going to take place in just under a couple of weeks.
When the sessions transferred online, the response from our young people to this new format was incredible. We were all amazed at the resilience and passion they all showed throughout our new digital Summer Term, and the positivity and explosive creativity they approached each and every project with.
Our 5-10s spent a lot of time working on their storytelling skills, which were channeled into songs, movement and the creation of their own puppet stories. A definite highlight for our team was reading about AppleBob’s adventures – just so you know, the stories included purple dragons with laser beam eyes, very cool!
Our 11-13s cohort embarked on an epic online adventure reading a stage version of Homer’s Odyssey and using the scenes as prompts to produce creative writing using the themes of journeys and growth through adversity. They also took part in our popular inter-generational VE Day video project, which celebrated them digitally coming together with their grandparents to recite the poem Siren, which was featured within a magazine that was designed for and by the Essex Civil Defence at Christmas in 1939. In addition to this, they also wrote, directed and performed their own short movies, influenced by a large range of filmmakers.
Our 14-18s delved deep into Theatre of the Absurd (what better time for it, hey?) and looked at Samuel Beckett and Dario Fo, using their works to inspire moments of online improvisation, creative writing and collaborative storytelling. They also celebrated Shakespeare Day with a video that put together their favourite lines from the Bard’s repertoire and fired up our social media with a homage to their favourite activists advocating for positive social change, including Angela Davies and Emmeline Pankhurst.
Both of our older groups ended the digital Summer Term in style with a mini Mercury-themed quiz during their last session; did you know that they really know their facts about our wonderful theatre?!
Watching these young people focus on their creative approach to this extremely challenging situation and grow through it, reaching new levels of maturity and artistic expression has been eye-opening. It has definitely reminded us that theatre is not exclusively performative; it is also about coming together and finding strength, courage and inspiration in the most difficult times. Which is why we need it now more than ever.
For more information about the upcoming Autumn Term and how to join, keep your eyes peeled on our website and social media channels.