The New Wolsey Theatre, Birmingham REP and Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, have been successful in their bid for funding from Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Programme to create and tour Theatre for Young People by Young People. The scheme has been called Young Theatre Makers.
These three major regional theatres are working in partnership to create a number of new productions using young theatre makers who are participating in their Creative Learning programmes, who will become the writers, devisors, actors and producers of 4 pieces of new work.
Birmingham Rep will commission a professional writer to work with their Young Producers, Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse will work with their own young writers and performers, and the New Wolsey Theatre will support their Young Associates to devise their own productions over the course of 2014 and 2015. Each partner venue is working with a number of satellite venues in their respective region to increase the appetite for the work and the expertise in attracting audiences of young people to their spaces. The productions will then tour to each other’s region to share the work, develop new ideas and introduce the young theatre makers to new venues, audiences and experiences.
Rob Salmon, Associate Director at the New Wolsey Theatre says: ‘There’s a lot of exciting, challenging and high quality theatre being made for young people by professional theatre makers, and some incredible work being made in various versions of youth theatres across the country with young people – but following our own experience of tasking young people to make theatre for young audiences we realised, here at the New Wolsey Theatre, that there was very little of this happening elsewhere. With that in mind we approached regular collaborators Birmingham Rep and Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse to explore whether together we can make a real difference to the landscape of work being made for young audiences. This work is about the theatre professionals of the future develop their skills, artistic voice and experience by making exciting, purposeful and relevant work for the here and now.’
Steve Ball, Associate Director at Birmingham REP says: ‘The experience of meeting like-minded young theatre makers from across the country is one that our youth theatre will relish. This is a fantastic opportunity for our Young REP to develop links with the rest of the West Midlands and beyond by sharing a piece of daring new drama.’
Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, said: ‘This project, which is driven by three National portfolio organisations working in partnership, really embodies the ambitions of the Strategic touring fund; that is ensuring more people have better access to the arts and increasing work for and by children and young people. It will provide a wonderful opportunity for 4 young people in the East of England to develop their creative ambitions and benefit from some of the fantastic expertise and support available from not only New Wolsey Theatre, but also The Birmingham REP and Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse.’
The first production will be presented this summer by the New Wolsey Young Associates – Frequently Asked Questions, tackles some fundamental questions that have puzzled generations: Why is the fluff in your belly button always blue? Why do donuts have holes? War, what is it good for? It’s a 10-step guide to adult life, from the perspective of four young people who have yet to experience their own adult lives.
The four young theatre makers from Suffolk will perform the production as a part of the Curtain Up season at the Garage in Norwich, and then go onto the New Diorama Theatre London to perform as part of A Younger Theatre’s INCOMING Festival in May. They will also be performing the show at the New Wolsey’s PULSE Festival in June before visiting each satellite venue as part of the Young Theatre Makers tour.
The productions from Birmingham and Liverpool will follow this Autumn – with many more ideas, opportunities, stories, plays and performances to come.
Picture by Carl Lamb