Following Trinity Youth Theatre’s performance of Frozen Junior at the beginning of December, Trinity’s Director of Creative Engagement, Jason Lower and its Access and Young People’s Producer, Rachel Rose spoke to Ben Cornwell about the youth programme and why it has remained an important part of Trinity since 1989…
Trinity’s Youth Theatre programme provides children and young people aged 5-21 in the local community the opportunity to gain theatre experience (both on and off stage) through a range of workshops and shows throughout the year.
Around 450 young people have taken part in youth theatre shows and workshops this year alone. The programme features 10 theatre productions each year, with this year’s shows including Les Misérables, Chicago, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and the junior production of Disney’s Frozen (an adaptation of the original musical with a shorter run time).
In recent months, the programme has featured various one-off workshops run by industry professionals like current Strictly contestant, Layton Williams, a performer from Heathers the Musical and a cast member from Six the Musical.
These types of workshops and masterclasses provide a great opportunity for the children to see and learn various tips and skills from industry professionals and find out more about different aspects of the theatre industry.
Trinity Theatre’s Director of Creative Engagement, Jason Lower, who has helped run the youth theatre for the last eight years, told the Times that there is no single important element of the programme as it is all part of a ‘process’.
He said: “The programme is about developing the children’s confidence, their creativity, their communication skills and their sense of community. We have had loads of children over the years who feel quite shy when they first come along and then, you know, two or three years later, they’re the ones leading the shows.”
Due to its longstanding history, the group have managed to create a large community over the years with many previous members of the programme coming back to work with the young people when they can. Trinity Theatre’s Access and Young People’s producer, Rachel Rose has been heavily involved for the last five years helping the young people working backstage on productions. However, like Jason she came through the youth theatre scheme herself.
She said: “When I was a youth theatre member, I really loved costume. I was doing costume designing and making and then ended up getting the opportunity to do that at the Oast Theatre in Tonbridge. From there I went on to do a costume degree, stage management and lots of different things backstage.”
To ensure the children enjoy working on each production they try to let them have an input on the shows that they will be working on. Their most recent production Frozen Junior was heavily requested and received many auditions from both frequent performers and newcomers. Many of the young people involved would likely have grown up with the Disney film which was released in 2013 and so it was a chance for them to ‘live out their childhood fantasies’.
Jason added: “I always think there’s something magical about watching young performers, as you can go to the West End and it will be incredible and it will be very polished but what I really like about working with young people is they don’t quite realise what they can do and what is within their gift to do and so they might even surprise themselves in the level of the performance they can give.”
To find out more details about joining the programme or auditioning for future productions, visit: trinitytheatre.net/participate/youth