A Journey into Youth Theatre

Friday 12 May 2017

Even though the perception of the arts has changed - from the elite being able to become ballerinas and for posh upper class snobs to attend the best British drama and music establishments - to community theatres and easy accessible performing arts school, why is it that you can see these ever expressive forms disappearing from schools? And why is there now more of a need as ever for community dance schools, and youth drama and musical theatre clubs? 

Throughout my experience as an artist, teacher, and practitioner, the arts are lacking in various sectors. But more so in the youth sector, whether it is in schools, or the community - or as I would like to call it the ‘accessible arts for the masses’. It should be a platform for people to spring board off of, to learn and perfect their trade, to gain confidence within themselves and to make friends. 

There is great quote by Chiwetel Ejiofor about his journey into acting;  

“I became an actor by doing school plays and youth theatres, and then National Youth Theatre of Great Britain. And then I did study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. For me that was a good way to enter the field, to work in the theatre” 

But what if you want to do something like make a drama club and youth theatre accessible? Like Ejiofor says, youth theatre helped him into acting or at least gave him the confidence to pursue it further. 

How do you enrich the community with the arts? To give children, young adults the chance to practice an art form that they might not be able to, or, have the confidence to do in school? And more importantly how do we do this?  

There isn't a yellow 'For Dummies' book sitting on your local libraries shelf, or a man in a pub with an extensive knowledge about this. It comes from ‘I shall seek, I shall find’, right? In many cases yes, but where youth theatre is concerned? No. Granted you do have the NAYT (National Association of Youth Theatre), who politely give you a page and a half word document on ‘sample policies and procedure’ and point you in the direction of insurance.  

Alternatively 'tell us about your youth theatre', a ‘bit of publicity is always good’, but is there anything more than that? Well you are looking for unicorn poop on a very windy day. You have to search, or alternatively ask another youth theatre director who has the time to talk through everything with you. This is what I was faced with in 2013, when I started to set up a youth theatre. 

When setting up a youth theatre, by yourself, without an establishment to fall back on, you need to remember three things – perseverance, that you are doing the right thing and that paperwork and policies are incredibly important. 

But the paperwork is a necessity, what you have to remember is that the passion in your chosen art form is all you need, for your idea to become real. And that's what I had in abundance, when setting up my youth theatre KPYA. 

Kim Carter