Why we need to be supporting youth theatre

As a student who once studied Performance Arts as GCSE and A Levels, I thought my future was in the world of theatre. Alas, that flew out the window and I decided to sit at this side of the stage and review theatre. It’s because of this that I’ve decided to take the opportunity to go and see more youth theatre.

Now there may be a little quibble over the quality of youth theatre. I can only speak about the North East section in this industry but I have been rather impressed with what I have seen and occasionally come to think of it as being better as the more experienced actors.

Take Live Theatre, who are a theatre based on the Quayside of Newcastle and are recognised as one of the great new writing producing theatres on the international stage. They provide projects for young people who are interested in acting and theatre.

I have had the pleasure of viewing projects like this, such as I’m Just Saying which was a performance of monologues and duologues written by young writers from the North East. It was a new writing project, collaborating with students from Excelsior Academy. Although the students weren’t physically on the stage as the plays were performed by professional actors, it was their own personal stories coming through as a performance via a script that they had written.  

It’s projects like this that also allow young writers to find their creative personalities and explore personal stories, but also understand how the industry works in terms of the script writing process.

When it comes to young people and performance, I take to your Aunt Fanny, well not literally your Aunt Fanny but the play produced by Live Theatre.

As girls of 17 and 22, they worked with North East writers Laura Lindow and Lee Mattinson and created sketches about things that are funny and inappropriate and all things female.

Your Aunt Fanny was in support of Live Theatre’s Education and Participation team, its inspiring to see theatres be so supportive of not only female actors but young actors.

Further up into Newcastle we have Northern Stage, which is the largest producing theatre company in the North East of England. They have a variety of opportunities such as Northern Stage Young Company, which is available for actors aged between 16-19 and it allows young actors to hone in on their skills and talents as they learn through a professional experience. It enables people to make connections in the professional theatre industry and to be treat as a professional rather than a young actor.

Encouraging participation in these companies

What I also love about Northern Stage is the project of NORTH that runs yearly; it gives emerging actors the chance to develop their skills and allows them to have a professional experience of what it is like to be in a theatre company.

Actors who want to apply don’t have to a degree, along as you have finished training as a performer you can be a part of the project via an audition process.  Although this isn’t a project that is for fresh starts  its more for people who are at the point where they need to start thinking about their career in theatre and want to build up an experience.  I have friends who have been involved in NORTH and it is great to see them not only develop as a person but see them grow as an actor. As after NORTH, the group of actors stay as a company and produce their own works and go on to do wonderful things.

This is what is so great about youth theatre; it enables young people to gain new skills in life and theatre. It lets you find who you want to be in the creative world, whether that’s acting on stage or writing the script. If you are a young actor who wants to get involved in projects and workshops like the ones that Live Theatre and Northern Stage provide, then it’s the perfect platform for building up your CV and gaining professional contacts in the North East Theatre Industry.

And it would be a shame to see opportunities like this disappears, just like any industry if we stop the future youngsters who want to work in an industry there won’t be an industry.  

So the next time you think about going to the theatre, perhaps see what the programme is for youth theatre and experience something fresh and interesting.

What do you think about youth theatre? Have your say in the comments below.