Go North (2009 – 2012), funded by BIG Lottery young people’s fund, enabled over 150 young people in Kingsweston, North Bristol, to work with acta to create their own original theatre shows. They put on two youth theatre festivals at Oasis Academy Brightstowe, worked with older people at Blaise Weston Court to create an intergenerational show, created & toured a special show for local primary school children, secured 56 youth arts awards between them, and many also worked as apprentices, co-leaders and peer mentors.
My favourite show was A Dangerous Engagement and there was a singer, Scarlet, who was supposed to get married and Katrina, a spy, who poisons her ring to kill half the world. It was my first play, it was really fun and I really liked the story. Read All About It was next favourite as I loved the character I was: James the newspaper editor…he was really shouty and always angry and I had to do a scene where he showed what he thought a chav was like. People outside said they could hear me shouting!
My favourite thing about acta is meeting like the people and creating like the plays and you can relax from the stress of school or work and you can just have fun and be yourself….also, I love to perform the plays to show what we’ve learnt, our new skills and sometimes we learn some history so it teaches us as well. Like when we did Blaise Castle and Cleve Abbey you learn the history and things you never knew.
My first favourite memory I liked was a big, huge Christmas play called Crackers. There were loads of different groups, younger and older and seeing how well we worked cos there was not just the play but these acrobats there too, doing juggling and tricks on the swings and my favourite bit was one of my costumes, a duck costume. Every time I think about that, there’s a smile on my face and I remember the good times when I was younger and just laugh. If I’m a bit low, I remember that and it makes me happy.
I like coming to these session because it helps me improve my confidence, and that’s pretty much why. I like playing characters and good emotions. My favourite game is budge, because you have to be quick and you don’t know who is in or out. It’s really confusing but fun.
I like meeting new people and building up my confidence and speaking in front of people I don’t usually speak in front of. It makes me feel wanted and not left out.
I like coming here because it’s more interactive and I’m really passionate about acting because I grew up with a lot of films and I just love films and I want to be in them. Well I know that when you‘re with other people and directing a film, in here you’re interacting with people and that’s what it’s like when you’re in a film
The most enjoyable thing about acta is rehearsing the play cos it’s fun to remember lines and for some reason it’s better than playing games. That’s it, pretty much.
I love seeing my friends, I also love the biscuits and drinks before we start obviously, and it lets me forget about school and relax, I guess it’s also fun in itself, acting, and basically it’s worth it too, to give up your time to learn the script.
I was very nervous cos I didn’t know very many people and I am quite shy. I am still quite shy, but not as shy as I was.
It was quite fun like cos we did some games and everyone was like really kind and it was quite interesting cos we did different things. We practise speaking to an audience and practised our expressions.
We get to be a different person, you can control what your character is doing, makes me feel like I can be anyone I want.
Summary of individual progress monitoring
Monitoring sessions were held with each young person at 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 18 weeks, 36 weeks, 60 weeks and 90 weeks. T shirts and hoodies were successful rewards for attending 18 and 36 weeks respectively. Below is a summary of the learning and evidence gathered from the young people themselves, through over 500 monitoring sessions with them over the three years of the project:
- All participants state that an improvement in their self confidence is evident from attending acta youth theatres and many say that this confidence is apparent firstly in the sessions and consequently in other places such as school and when talking to other young people or adults.
- Many participants state that the sessions help them to express themselves and their ideas more clearly.
- Participants recognise that sessions are a chance to have fun, they love the opportunity to make up new characters and worlds – to be crazy and random.
- They enjoy the process of working towards something and seeing it through to completion.
- Working with acta leads to them gaining confidence and therefore enjoyment during drama and literacy classes in school.
- They want to make new friends and identify the benefits of socialising outside of school friends and with young people of different ages.
- They acknowledge that it’s really helpful to have access to adults other than their parents and teachers
- They show awareness of skills that are being learnt through drama games and value the skills they are learning such as increased leadership skills which they may not work on at school.
- They are aware that they are learning to enjoy performing.
- They enjoy the process of working with sets, lights, props, costume and professional support in these areas.
- They enjoy learning how to make people laugh.
- They are aware that doing a second show boosted my confidence – ‘the first one went OK so I could enjoy the second’
- They show an understanding of individuals’ part in the whole and a desire to make a good show for everyone.
- They appreciate that acta staff listen to what they want in terms of their ideas, how many lines they would like, if they want to change something.
- They understand that coming to sessions Improves their communication skills.
- They really enjoy working on projects across different groups – seeing each others work – working on shows together.
- They have an understanding of an individual’s role with a group situation and value listening to each other’s ideas and the skill of not always being the leader.
- They enjoy the process of learning stage skills and putting them into practice.
- They recognise the benefits of keeping busy and trying new things.
- They appreciate that you learn to enjoy something when you do it more than once – people who have completed two shows felt more able and confident when working on the second as they understood the process- ‘It’s more exciting when you’re not scared!’
- They enjoy developing their imaginations and learning how to be someone else.
- They understand the importance of not being distracted, concentrating on something and trying your hardest.
- They recognise team skills.
- They enjoy the variety of activities within an acta Youth theatre.
- Some participants show a developed self awareness and an awareness of their own improvement and areas for further work.
- They enjoy developing a sense of humour and an ability to take pleasure in being laughed at.
- Some participants enjoy expanding their acting abilities to vary their styles and not always default to the comfort zone of comedy.
- They are aware of finding the balance between having fun and a laugh but still getting the best out of sessions and making the show or improvisation as good as it can be.
- They recognise the importance of being organised – looking after scripts, fitting learning lines and arts wards work into school work and busy schedules.
- They want to challenge themselves.
- They enjoy longer sessions with more time to get stuff done.
- They understand how practising and having support can help you to get over confidence issues.
- They recognise their own strengths such as thinking on their feet.
- They recognise the difficulty in performing to peers and that this is harder than to strangers.
- They struggle with changes to groups – new members, members leaving etc.