Our New Youth Theatre

As our new Learning Centre begins to take shape, our Director Grant Brisland, discusses the ambition for our new Youth Theatre.

The summer holidays have arrived and over the next few weeks the transformation of our new Learning Centre will be taking shape. This is a hugely exciting and ambitious project and I’m utterly convinced that this new space will not only enable us to reach new people and begin new projects but it will make the work of the Learning and Participation team feel ever-more integral to the organisation.

Part of our plans to develop a Learning Centre is to launch a new Youth Theatre programme in September. The skills and expertise of the staff team, coupled with our ambition to enable young people to create a fully professional large scale performance to be presented at the Corn Exchange makes this doubly-exciting.  

There’s pretty much a class for each school year meaning people aged 4 to 19 can get involved in the Youth Theatre. What’s more we believe there should be no audition process and that it should openly accessible to everybody; that it should be priced at a realistic and reasonable cost; and that classes should be limited in numbers to ensure we can grow and provide the best support for everyone.

What will make our Youth Theatre unique is the opportunity for young people to work with professional theatre makers to create large scale productions. Whilst this is a great learning experience in itself (and a chance to perform in a professional and respected theatre) it also enables young people to learn the importance of commitment; the benefits of working collaboratively with a range of different people; public speaking skills as well as many other vital life skills.

Of course these skills and developments will be important for young people who want a career in the arts but they’re important for everybody irrespective of their future aspirations. We believe passionately that being a member of the youth theatre will also support their cognitive development, enabling them to become rounded, empathetic (yet focused and determined) and we look forward to seeing our young members grow and develop throughout their life with us.

The first large-scale show we will be creating will be next July with the Senior Youth Theatre. Over the next few weeks we will be reading plenty of scripts to select our final choice and we’ll be looking to announce that in the early part of September.

The second large-scale show will be working with the Infant and Junior Youth Theatre groups collaboratively and that show will likely be a play with music (so plenty of singing!). This will be up to 160 young people working together to present a show of huge scale and similarly we hope to confirm our script choice in September ready for a performance in Easter 2019.

Both productions will have the support of a professional creative team, whether that’s sound and lighting from our core technical team or bringing in outside expertise such as set and costume designers as well as choreographers and musical directors.

We can’t wait to meet everybody in September!