Tag Archive | "Young People"

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Guest blog: Tricycle Takeover

Posted on 11 April 2014 by A Younger Theatre

I’m sitting writing this article in the bar of the Tricycle where the team are busy taking down the festival decorations. It’s like the day after a party where everyone is sad it’s over, but has the chance to reflect on the fun events that have passed. The company and I would just like to thank Indhu Rubasingham and her AMAZING team at Tricycle Theatre; everyone from the Bar Staff to the Office Staff have been so welcoming and vocal in their support. Their belief in what young people can achieve has touched us all, and we just hope we made them proud and can continue to do so in the future.

The entire process has been, well… there are no words. I feel so privileged to have been a part of the Takeover Festival. I laughed at The Wardrobe, I cried at We Think its Extraordinary performed by 11-to-13-year-olds, where they talked about all the things they want to be when they’re older and how they hate being stereotyped. The entire week has reinforced for me the importance of theatre in today’s world; inspiring tolerance and understanding of one another’s experiences, from our troubles to our triumphs.

My advice to other young practitioners is to be proactive. Push yourself to the limit and then a bit more. Try things you had never considered before; directing, writing, stand-up comedy! This leads to cross-disciplines which can lead to even more exciting and experimental theatre.

Most importantly, focus predominantly on your weaknesses. Perfect your craft. I am constantly plagued with self-doubt. Is my acting convincing? Is my play interesting? Was that joke funny? We all have days where we just need to take a step back and gain some perspective. But as much as I doubt whether I’m good at what I do, I never doubt that I love what I do. There is no place I feel as at home as a rehearsal room.

My last piece of advice would be view everything as an opportunity. I spent nearly two years working in an office, wondering why I was living so far away from my family. Whilst it wasn’t in my chosen field I learnt a lot about the real world and came across some interesting people who inspired a lot of my plays and sketches. Sometimes we creative types can get stuck in our own little bubbles, but the people you come across at work, on the tube, are the people we want to engage with. I don’t want to make theatre for other theatre practitioners. I want to make it for anyone who has the faith to walk through the foyer door, whether they have heard of Bertolt Brecht or not. For me, theatre is all about telling stories about the world we live in. It’s about finding some common ground with your fellow humans. It’s about connecting. And that is what was at the heart of The Kilburn Passion.

Rachael Black is an actor, playwright and comedy writer/performer, originally from North East England. She is a graduate of the Royal Court Young Writers’ Programme and Soho Theatre’s Writing and Comedy Lab.

The Tricycle Young Company took over the theatre from 30 March to 5 April for the Tricycle Takeover Festival. For more information, visit the Tricycle’s website.

A Younger Theatre

A Younger Theatre

A Younger Theatre (AYT) is a platform for young people to express their views on theatre and performance. The site is maintained, edited and published by under 26 year olds who all have a passion for theatre.

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Filskit blog – young people are important

Posted on 08 April 2014 by Filskit Theatre

It’s 11.34pm on a Monday night. One night owl Filskit Lady was getting ready to send our latest blog offering off to A Younger Theatre, when she came across a discussion on our Twitter feed about this piece by Susan Elkin – Stop marginalising young audience work. As a company which works with young audiences and feels passionate about creating high quality theatre for children and young people, we just had to respond.

Now, we have admitted many times that Filskit Theatre did not initially set out to create work for children; we were all prepared to live out our theatre days performing five-hour durational pieces to drunk people in various tunnels underneath the train stations of central London. But the more people we invited to see our work, the more we were told “this would be great for little ones” and “kids would love it”. So we decided to give it a go. We created our first piece, a re-telling of Snow White with the help of the EMERGE Project at the Unicorn (because who better to tell you whether or not your work is suitable for kids, right?). The funny thing about this process was that we actually changed very little in the way that we made a piece for children compared with the way that we made work for adults.

We met a fellow theatre maker just the other day, who, instead of saying that he made work for children, said that he made work without the word “fuck” in it. That’s one way of putting it.

The biggest learning curve for us in our transition into a children’s theatre company was the realisation that children and young people don’t want to be patronised. They can grasp much more complex ideas than they are perhaps given credit for by other forms of “children’s entertainment” and can appreciate the magic of the theatre in a way that few adults can.

We have said this before and we’ll say it again: some of the most creative and engaging work we have seen over the past five years has been for children. It’s not all C Beebies and old men on unicycles talking about road safety (yes, we have seen that too). There are entire festivals dedicated to showcasing the best theatre for children and young people from the UK and abroad, for example Imaginate and Take Off, and there are so many companies out there that are creating truly fantastic work for young audiences.

Next week we are taking our show The Feather Catchermto a symposium event at Rose Bruford College, we are also running a workshop for the MA Theatre for Young Audiences students. It’s fantastic to see that there are courses specifically designed to train theatre makers in this area – we can’t wait to get involved.

So why does work for young audiences still not get the recognition it deserves?

In her piece for The Stage, Susan Elkin focuses specifically on the lack of coverage that theatre for young audiences gets in the press. But it’s not just the papers and their reviewers that marginalise this type of work. Indeed when we first told our peers and fellow graduates that we were making work for children we were met with some quizzical looks. We were even asked by one peer “but don’t you ever want to make proper theatre?”. This mentality, that work for young audiences is somehow lesser than other art, is shockingly common.

So, what can we as artists do to change this perception? To be perfectly honest, we don’t know. Perhaps there needs to be some kind of website or publication specifically for young audiences work? Perhaps there already is?

As a start, we put a call out to all artists and companies who currently make work for young people or who are perhaps aspiring performers who want to work with children. We invite you to challenge yourselves to keep on making exceptional theatre… sooner or later everyone else (press included) will want to join the party, we hope.

Filskit Theatre

Filskit Theatre

Filskit Theatre are an all-female ensemble with a passion for micro-projection. The company, Sarah Gee, Katy Costigan and Victoria Dyson, have been making work together since 2008. As graduates of the European Theatre Arts course at Rose Bruford they were brought together by their shared love of projection and cake.

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Blog: Filskit Theatre: Collaboration – the start of something beautiful?

Posted on 05 February 2014 by Filskit Theatre

collaboration team

“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” H.E. Luccock

The idea of collaborating can be a scary one. You know what you do and you have your own individual style, so the idea of external people coming in and changing that dynamic can be daunting. But on the other hand it can really shake you out of your comfort zone. It offers you the chance to pool skills, bat around fresh ideas and see what happens when new people join the party. One of the best things that we ever did was bring in musician Melanie Borsack. By having another body in the space we began to view things from another perspective, meaning that live music is now a key feature of our shows. It has influenced characters, the atmospheres we create and our projections. A collaboration can be an exciting springboard into the unknown.

2014 brings with it the terrifying discovery that we Filskit Ladies have known each other for nearly seven years (I know, we don’t look old enough right? Right?). Knowing each other so well can result in some great performing and devising attributes; sensitivity to each other on stage, understanding each other’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the ability to be horrifically honest with each other (with no hard feelings as soon as the kettle goes on). It does however have a few drawbacks. You may start to fall into natural patterns and predictable rhythms that come from working with the same people for a length of time. You may start to play it safe and forget to keep pushing the boundaries. So when we were presented with the opportunity to collaborate with fellow associate artists at Stratford Circus, with nervous excitement, we decided to jump in.

Tea Dance for Little People (TDLP) focus on designing interactive and immersive installations in unusual spaces, which encourage artists/performers and families with very young children to explore their creative and physical potential through sensory play. Through our collaboration, we will be combining our love of visuals and theatricality with their interactivity and scenic expertise. When looking for others to collaborate with, we were keen to find those with a similar outlook towards creating an exciting experience for children, however who would also bring different skills and experience to mix into the pot.

So after many weeks of meetings, planning and funding applications, we finally got into a room and had a chance to play together. It was time to begin building A-Maze-In, an interactive experience for 0-8 year olds using a blend of crafts, projection and sounds. As the title suggests, the setting for this experience is one of the most ambitious aspects of the project. With the help of a great team and Stratford Circus we are going to build an actual maze. This is one of the most exciting parts of the collaboration. To date, most of our shows have always taken a more minimalist approach towards set for aesthetic emphasis on the multimedia and also practically, to enable transportation in our tiny vehicles! The idea of building something so ambitious is far more normal in the world of TDLP, which arrived with an array of exciting boxes full of materials in order to build, make and do. Add to this the technical sound expertise of collaborator Jay and you can begin to feel that this could be the start of something very exciting indeed.

One of the first realisations to hit you is that after being almost entirely self-sufficient for so many years is that you are not entirely responsible for everything. This includes creative ideas and the how, as well as the hard grind to make it all happen. Being surrounded by other artists makes it easy to bounce ideas off each other, sometimes seeing the potential in areas that could have otherwise been missed. One of our biggest anxieties when looking to enter into collaboration was actually the artistic approach. How can two companies with separate identities create something cohesive? Will one company dominate? Whilst we think it is fair to say that those who know both Filskit and TDLP will be able to identify trademark moments, the overall result will definitely be something new and imaginative.

Meanwhile, we Filskit ladies have been locking ourselves away at The Point in Eastleigh, in order to start the development of our next show. Admittedly there will be no mazes involved, but we’re sure the influences from working with another company will be evident. We’re now keener than ever to call people in during our creative process, whether it is for work on clowning, advice on lighting or even nursery children watching and taking part in the work. They may just be offering feedback or guidance but even that can have a significant influence on the work that you create. Try blending your skills with others and you might just be surprised at the results.



Filskit Theatre

Filskit Theatre

Filskit Theatre are an all-female ensemble with a passion for micro-projection. The company, Sarah Gee, Katy Costigan and Victoria Dyson, have been making work together since 2008. As graduates of the European Theatre Arts course at Rose Bruford they were brought together by their shared love of projection and cake.

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Feature: Q&A with Michael Fentiman

Posted on 03 February 2014 by Freya Smith


Michael Fentiman is currently directing an RSC First Encounter production of The Taming of the Shrew, with the male and female roles reversed. Aimed at 8-13 year olds, the production will open in February at  The Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon before embarking on a six week tour of UK schools and regional theatres, then travelling to the US to play at The Ohio State University.  Freya Smith caught up with Fentiman to find out more.

How did you get into directing?
Initially, I trained as an actor and went to Bretton Hall for three years. We did all of our training by a practical approach. We learnt a lot about different kinds of theatre and how you make theatre, which inspired me to set up a theatre company while I was there. I directed a play and then just sort of fell into directing. I didn’t have the financial support to work on the Fringe, so I did a host of jobs: directing pantomimes, shows on cruise ships, professional wrestling, as well as doing plays and tours. After about two or three years I thought I should train so studied the one year postgraduate directing course at Mountview, and I’ve been directing pretty much non stop since then!

You’ve done a lot of work with the RSC. Were you always drawn to Shakespeare?
When I was at school I didn’t really like Shakespeare; I found it quite boring. When I first started directing I probably felt more that I should direct a Shakespeare play than I necessarily wanted to. I was a little bit scared, as I’d assumed that directing Shakespeare was for people smarter than I am. I’d stuck to new plays, which of course you need to be equally as clever for. I’d directed two Steven Berkoff plays: East and Messiah. In East I kept finding lots of brilliant phrases, and I really loved the language. I realised that a lot of this language was taken from Shakespeare plays, which made me think I could direct one.

How did you begin working with the RSC?
When I finished at Mountview my mentor recommended working with Michael Boyd at the RSC. After about nine rounds of interviews, I became part of the long ensemble. At the time, I didn’t really know what it meant – I just knew the RSC was very important! I assisted Michael Boyd and Rupert Goold. Now whenever I come back I can’t imagine starting out anywhere else; it feels very much like a family.

What excites you about First Encounter and performing Shakespeare in schools?
I’m excited about giving young people the opportunity to see it live. The texts weren’t designed to be sat down and read, they were designed to be performed and heard. I’m excited about young people seeing Shakespeare of this standard: we’re touring in schools with a cast of nine, a musician and a full set, all supported by the RSC. It’s quite a significant touring schools project; not a lot of companies could afford to go into schools at this scale.

You’re directing a gender-swapped production of The Taming of the Shrew. Where did that idea come from, and what motivated it?
With The Taming of the Shrew, Greg [Doran, Artistic Director of the RSC] came to me and said, we’re looking to do a season of work featuring strong female protagonists – e.g. The Roaring Girl and The White Devil, which are written by Shakespeare’s contemporaries. Greg wanted to carry that thrust into the touring Shakespeare work. He came up with The Taming of the Shrew and reversing genders which really excited me; we’re doing a gender swap in a production that’s normally seen as a comment on gender. I took it further and said I wanted the female characters to be played by men in Elizabethan dress but with skinheads and beards, and that they shouldn’t attempt to act like women. So straight away you go, we’ve swapped the costumes and now we play the roles; we’re not trying to comment on how women or men behave.

Playing to young people, we carry a responsibility with what kind of production we bring. We wouldn’t want something which glorified the idea of making a woman submit to a man, but we also wouldn’t want to watch a play where a woman accepts that that’s the case. What we feel we’re doing is looking less at a man and a woman than two people fighting their way into a relationship.

How have you made The Taming of the Shrew accessible to a young audience?
I’m not really worried about making it accessible, because when you do that you try to make the language “cool”, you put people in “cool” clothes. But the truth is, people have imaginations – they can make the imaginative leap and make the things being said relatable to their own lives.

What advice do you have for young directors?
Go to see lots of other people’s work. Go to see work you disagree with, because often your work is informed by what you don’t like, as well as what you do. Always have a classic revival and at least two new plays sitting in your back pocket at any one time. Assist people that are at the top of their game, but in assisting them, don’t lose a sense of your own voice. As a young director, you assume that because you’re inexperienced, you’re almost always in the wrong, and the truth is that your first instinct is probably always right, regardless of your experience. You then learn to make that instinct practical. Trust in your own instincts even when listening to wonderful advice; you can only be yourself.

To find out more about Michael Fentiman’s production of The Taming of the Shrew, visit the RSC education team’s website.

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