Launching Freedom Studios Youth Theatre – Week 1

Today will be our first ever youth theatre workshop.  FIRST EVER.  That’s a pretty momentous step in any theatre company’s story but I think somehow it’s a bigger step for us.  This is because we have worked towards building a youth theatre for over a year.

For this past year we have worked with Cape UK and Carlton Bolling to help new to English students improve their literacy and confidence with the English language.  We have conducted workshops at four different schools across Bradford.  And we have advertised the youth theatre to young people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to this opportunity.  Because you see, I have taught at the more traditional youth theatre, and I liked it.  But that’s not what this is. A young person who is in able to access more traditional youth theatres is right to go to those places, but we are interested in a different group of people, from a very different economic, social, and cultural background.

When I was young, there was no way my parents could afford to send me to Stagecoach, Stage 84 or youth theatre companies where you had to pay.  And being from a mixed immigrant, white working class family I wasn’t in the local amateur dramatics ‘crowd’.  So I joined the free local youth group.  Unlike groups who did only musicals, and unlike the local amateur dramatics group who did traditional texts; our youth theatre devised our own stories inspired by our own lives.  We learned to sing and dance, but we also learned to improvise and write.  By the age of fourteen I had performed a promenade piece (where the audience moves around the building) in an abandoned warehouse about Mountains. Learning about theatre making in this way made me who I am today.

And this is what I hope to offer these young people, of unknown quantity and character, as I wait outside Culture Fusion, wondering if anyone will show up.  And while I am waiting, these are the notes I am writing in my book. Because this is an important moment in Freedom Studios’ history, whichever way you spin it. And I suppose I’d like to share this moment with you.

And they did show up.  And it was pretty awesome.  But that’s a story for next week…

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