Youth Theatre – Week 4

Week Four of the Youth Theatre, we are still to pick a name, but for now Freedom Studios Youth Theatre will suffice, and my theme this week was inclusion and exclusion – centred around more games!

We had a special visitor this week, a friend and artistic collaborator of mine Javaad Alipoor. Javaad is a writer and director, he runs Northern Lines and he came along this week to perform his latest poem, inspired by the battle of Orgreave, to the group. I think the group really enjoyed the poem and performance, and Javaad’s story about how he came to make theatre. I think it’s still a widely held belief that you have to go to a stage school, drama school or academic training institution to become a theatre-maker. Sadly, that is true for much of the industry. But pockets created by organisations like Asian Theatre School (Bradford 2004-2007), Holycroft Youth Theatre (Keighley 1991 – 2004), are off-the-map opportunities for young people to find their voice and  learn a different way of speaking from their peers. I find that exciting, innovative and somewhat anarchic. I also think it’s the only way to invent new theatre-making processes, rather than perpetuate the same methods for the sake of tradition. In that room at Culture Fusion, every Thursday from 4:30pm until 6:30pm, we can truly innovate – it’s fast becoming the highlight of my week.

They are helping me think in new ways too. I’m questioning exercises, games, techniques on a level I never have, getting into the very ethics of that exercise, asking why this games was created and by whom and for who. It feels like a re-introduction to the world of theatre and I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little unsettled by this challenge. But, I tried to lead by example and embrace the challenge and this week, true to my word, I introduced the theme of inclusion and exclusion.

The response is a bit strange. The group worked well with the ‘presentation’ of the states of inclusion and exclusion. But they missed the deeper meaning of the words. I’m interested by what appears to be a lack of opinion, a lack of willingness to talk about what is considered ‘including’ and ‘excluding’. I’m wondering if it’s too soon, perhaps they don’t know me or each other well enough. Or perhaps  these 16, 18, 22 year olds don’t spend much time being asked about the deeper ethical and personal repercussions of inclusion and exclusion; where it happens, what it means on a social and global scale. Or perhaps they have never been asked to think about it.  Next week = discussion time!


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