FIRST EVENT OUTCOMES
The first Creative Youth Voices event commenced on Saturday, 23rd November 2019. This event saw a group of 15 young people, ranging from years 6 – 8 from schools across the city of Stoke-on-Trent & North Staffordshire, attend the New Vic Theatre. During this visit the young people were introduced to the project for the forthcoming year and the key project staff, they took part in a host of ice-breaking activities, watched a performance of ‘The Prince and the Pauper’, and concluded with a question based activity to takeaway – reflecting on their experience of the performance and theatre.
During this initial encounter, the Creative Youth Voices project group, teaching staff from the participating schools, and representatives from the New Vic Theatre, queried the young people about why they had chosen to attend the introductory event and subsequently be involved in the Creative Youth Voices Project.
“I’ve never heard of the New Vic, I thought the name was interesting”
“There was a lot of writing on the letter, I thought I can’t be bothered to read this. Then my brother read the first line and said ‘you need to read this’.’
‘I didn’t realise there was a show. I’ve come for the fun of it because of the workshop. Usually I don’t do much, so I wanted to do something different.’
‘I don’t really do much at home… I saw it said workshop and thought it was something different to do.’
‘I saw it was on a Saturday and gave me something to do.’
‘It’s good doing something as friends.’
‘I’m just glad to be away from home for three hours, because I don’t know what to do other than draw.’
‘Interested in experiencing different opportunities, such as art galleries. I’ve been to an art gallery in London.’
‘Most activities are as a family and I have a disabled brother. I’m keen to see and do things on my own… I’ve not been to an art gallery.’
Some young people shared their previous experiences of attending the theatre:
‘I come every other week to do a drama club.’
‘Grandad worked at the Regent, he plastered/decorated the roof, so I always look for initials carved.’
‘I’ve been to the Regent and Victoria Hall, but not the New Vic.’
‘We’ve come with school to the New Vic, but not with family,’
‘We’re coming again with school to watch ‘The Prince and the Pauper’, but it’ll still be fun.’
‘I’ve seen a pantomime, I remember it a little bit.’
‘My brother’s coming to see ‘The Prince and the Pauper’ in the week, we’ll chat about it when he’s been.’
The project was then introduced by Kirsty Cotton, Kreative Foundations, who promoted the importance of the group in relation to the Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire Cultural Education Partnership. The function of the CEP was explained and their mission to provide cultural and arts experiences for children and young people, across Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire, as part of education and extra-curricular activities. The young people were informed that through the CYV project they would play a role in directing the parties involved in the CEP, acting as an advisory body, to ensure the activities being developed met local children and young people’s interests and needs.
Jill Rezzano, New Vic Theatre, led a host of activities that encouraged the young people, and supporting adults, to integrate with each other. The activities encouraged the young people to find out more about each other, communicate, work as a team and develop confidence around each other. The activities were really well received, with the young people freely talking to each other and staff, using the space, completing activities quickly and effectively due to the high levels of communication and team working skills being used.
Following the activities all the young people and staff watched a performance of ‘The Prince and the Pauper.’ Several members of staff mentioned that they found themselves watching the young people’s reactions, as opposed to the show, because their engagement had been so lovely to see. The reactions shared included:
- The young people were mesmerised throughout
- One young man repeatedly said ‘wow’
- Others were on the edges of their seats
- Others engaged with the characters – excitedly telling them where to run
During the interval we all reconvened to the Youth Theatre Space. The young people were given the opportunity to go out on to the atrium balcony, where they were able to see the cast behind the scenes. The children were very excited by this, especially when one of the main characters (the prince/pauper) came into view at which point the young people all cheered. Several children spoke to staff after this, with comments such as:
‘Mrs Bates, I’m going to be an actor now.’ ‘That was so good. I can’t believe I saw that.’ ‘I’m so happy’
It was also fed back that some of the young people were re-enacting Tudor dancing, having seen it during the show.
All watched the final half of the performance and again the young people’s reactions were lovely to witness, and their feedback at the end of the performance was very positive too:
‘I can’t wait to see it again with school.’ ‘Brilliant!’ ‘That was the greatest show I’ve ever seen.’ ‘That was really fun.’ ‘Fantastic.’ ‘It was amazing.’ ‘That’s the best thing ever.’ ‘My favourite bit was when everyone came back on stage and sang.’ ‘I wish that could have been on television. We could rewind and watch it again then.’
The feedback from the CYV project group, teaching staff and New Vic Theatre has also been really positive:
‘It was great to meet and get to know everyone. The pre-show workshop was fun and the highlight was seeing the young people’s reactions to the show.’
(Lynn Parry, New Vic Theatre)
‘Thank you to everyone for making Saturday night such a huge success!! The young people were a dream to work with and it definitely bodes well for an exciting project.’
(Gail Washington, Stoke-on-Trent & North Staffs CEP)
It was fantastic, thanks so much! I know that the pupils really enjoyed it & I’m really looking forward seeing the group develop.
(Liz Axon, Endon High School)
‘I just wanted to say thank you for a wonderful evening at the theatre last night and for supporting the young people to engage with the performance and the workshop, so brilliantly.
If that was the first session, I think we have a lot to look forward to, working with these amazing young people.’
(Jill Rezzano, New Vic Theatre)
‘What an affirming and inspiring email to receive (responses from young people to seeing The Prince and The Pauper). Thank you so much for taking time to share this. It’s everything I hope that making family-oriented work will achieve and more.’
(Theresa Heskins – Artistic Director, New Vic Theatre)