What people don’t realise is the wealth of activity that happens every week at our theatre in Ringwood. Up to 145 young people between the ages of 6 and 21 access weekly workshops as part of our Youth Theatre. Theatre skills such as performance, improvisation, physical theatre are at the heart of what we do, and each group get the chance to perform a show in our theatre annually. Alongside this we regularly create site specific and street theatre pieces which tend to be full of fun and anarchy!
Our youth theatre offers the opportunity to work with theatre professionals, working in the industry every day, who have standards of expectation and are always striving to create the best theatre they can. Our young people work within an ethos that ensures that when they work on a show the audience should expect to see a dynamic and skilful piece of storytelling, and forget that the performers are young. We have a wonderful track record with those young people who want to pursue theatre as a career and currently have former youth theatre members at RADA, Rose Bruford, Guildhall, Central, East 15, LAMDA, Mountview, and Guilford to name a few!
One of the wonderful things about youth theatre is that this is only part of what the participants get. In an increasingly stressful world where the pressure on young people to achieve academically, manage their on and off line lives, and also simply “grow up” is causing anxiety and mental health issues to bubble over. Youth Theatre offers the chance to learn how to manage their emotions; how to deal with stress in relation to a show but with the wonderful payoff of a performance they will remember forever; and the chance to spread their wings; flex their imaginations and challenge themselves.
There is much talk at the moment about a general lack of empathy, particularly in young people and despite their outward confidence and assertiveness there is a lack of compassion (one study showing that American college students display 40% less empathy than those born 30 years earlier!) Whether this is true or fake news, whether this resonates with you, or perhaps you feel your child is especially sensitive, the arts are a fantastic way to explore other peoples feelings and situations; and in our Youth Theatre examining and discovering emotion and compassion is at the forefront of what we do, whether they are working on a text, devising characters or playing with movement.
I am lucky enough to do such a fun, challenging and rewarding job. I get to see the best of children and young people, am privileged to watch them take risks and learn how to manage their emotions when these risks don’t pay off, and then join them in celebrating when it all comes together.
In April you can see the Youth Theatre perform Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in an adaptation by Helen Newall, a Gothic morality tale about responsibility, which our cast have grabbed with their usual enthusiasm. It is designed by David Haworth, a long-standing designer with the company and should be full of surprises. In May we will be taking a fun and energetic inter-generational piece of street theatre to Fanfare for Spring in Ringwood – a co-production with our adult group. In June we are resurrecting our production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible to be performed outdoors as part of The New Forest Arts Festival. All details of how to see these are on our website.
So if you want your young person to stand tall in their own shoes, or experience what it is like to walk in someone else’s, perhaps our Youth Theatre is for them! For information on how to get involved please see our website www.forestforgetheatre.co.uk or contact us on email@example.com.