Welcome Natalie!

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We are delighted to welcome Natalie Quatermass to the Freedom Studios team as our new Youth Theatre Director! We asked Natalie to write her first blog (thanks Natalie!) She tells us about some of the projects she has been involved in recently, what inspires her and what she is looking forward to getting stuck in with here at Freedom Studios…

Hello! I’m Natalie, and it is my utter delight to join the team at Freedom Studios as the new Youth Theatre Director!

After graduating in 2012, from Central School of Speech and Drama in That London, I was fortunate enough to become the Creative Engagement Intern at York Theatre Royal (YTR) and so I could return to my ancestral home and God’s own county; Yorkshire! At YTR my responsibilities included creating practical arts and narrative based projects and extending the reach and scope of the theatre through a variety of participatory projects. I loved creating and delivering theatre with community groups such as Creative Personalities, Refugee Action York and SNAPPY. The internship was also partnered with a Masters degree in Applied Theatre from York St John University, where I explored my practice in a research context.

In 2014 /15, I covered the maternity leave of the YTR Youth Theatre Director and therefore worked with the 300+ young people that were coming into the theatre every week. Alongside the amazing youth theatre practitioners and assistants we created a season of ambitious, challenging and relevant theatre that put young people’s voices centre stage.

Nearing the end of my contract at York Theatre Royal I knew I wanted a new kind of challenge and so I decided to go work with The Freedom Theatre, Jenin, Palestine. Why not? To me, The Freedom Theatre epitomises the potential of theatre as a socio-political tool, providing a creative and safe space for Palestinians to explore and develop their individual and collective identities. Here, I formed part of a small team of Palestinian artists who successfully established the first ever Youth Theatre in Jenin Refugee Camp, North West Bank.

On returning to the UK from Palestine, I simply wanted to learn how to create amazing theatre; with grown-ups as well as young people. How hard could it be? As part of this mission I’ve directed Moira Buffinis’ Welcome to Thebes with University of Cumbria students, The Winter’s Tale with York Shakespeare’s Company and a new piece of work, Whatever Happened to Vandal Raptor?  with York based punk poet, Henry Raby.

All of which bring me neatly up to date. I’m over the moon to be joining the Freedom Studio’s team! I’ve always loved site specific theatre, new writing and strongly believe that theatre is at its best when it represents the community that surrounds it. I believe creativity and the arts are essential to nourishing a community; providing space for marginalised voices, and to developing and expressing a sense of belonging. I’m really looking forward to getting to know Bradford’s community (any tips are welcome! I’ve already got my tickets for a few events at the Lit Festival!)

I believe youth theatre should enable young people to discover their creative voice and then act as a microphone for that voice. (If there are any young people reading this – hello! I’m talking to you, as well as about you!) I want to continue and expand on the brilliant work the Freedom Studios Youth Theatre has been doing over the last 3 years, and help it to become a living, breathing hub for the creativity of all the young people of Bradford. To reflect that, I am really excited that as well as continuing work with Carlton Bolling College and Grange Technical Collage, we will be reaching out to new schools across Bradford and the surrounding areas in the next few months. Saturday morning sessions will also continue and we can look forward to our first ever youth theatre production in 2019!

The first exciting project for me to get my teeth into is the Freedom Studios’ Youth Theatre Summer Camp, this August, watch this space for more details soon!


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