Youth Theatre: Why is it different?  Or is it?

Convener(s):  Emma

Participants: Emma Bernard, Rachel Tyson, Jeni Toksvig, Hayley White, Edward Kemp, Di Sherlock, Helen Bryer and numerous others!

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations: 

Why does Youth Theatre not have the same kudos?

  • Funding/lack of!
  • Doing it for the £s
  • Process vs product
  • Marketing/critics/reviews
  • Professionals working with young people (in cast)- high quality professionals working with young people- professional team

…then the original participants moved on, new participants came and a new conversation began… 

  • What about the idea of Young Companies?  Young people not just acting but having the opportunity to try out different roles in theatre- directors, designers, stage managers etc.
  • This means YT participants (some of whom are probably looking into future careers in the industry) can learn early on about how it ‘really’ works.
  • Young people can also train other YT members up as directors, stage managers etc- this keeps YT young and gives the young people real ownership of the company and the work they produce, as well as giving them experience of peer-assisted learning/mentoring…
  • …Why aren’t all Youth Theatre groups run by young people??
  • What about audiences?  Targeting peer groups- do young people see lots of youth theatre (that they aren’t involved in producing themselves)?  Young audiences for YT means that young people’s voices are being heard and shared with each other.  This can only be a good thing!
  • Who ARE Youth Theatre audiences?  Just family and friends of the young people involved?  Why is this?
  • YT should be about giving young people POWER and allowing them a VOICE, rather than dictating to them.  Get them to be the theatremakers, not the leaders!  Giving young people space to CREATE.  That’s more challenging for them than being told what to do by a bunch of grown-ups! 
  • There are reasons this doesn’t always happen- time constraints, external pressures on the type of work being produced, parents phoning up and asking why little Rosie hasn’t got a big part, etc!  But YT should be about young people and this doesn’t always seem to be the case.
  • Young people can put something forward that adult professionals can’t- playfulness etc.  This doesn’t have to be restricted to YT- let young performers collaborate with older professionals- they have things to bring to the process too.
  • It’s important that young people learn about PROCESS.  Trying things out, experimenting and making mistakes is part of life!  Young people who make experimenting a habit will be the interesting theatre practitioners of tomorrow!