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Youth Takeover success!

On Thursday 31 March and Friday 1 April, we held our first Playmakers Youth Takeover at Theatre Royal Winchester. The takeover was brought about to showcase the talents of local young people and their response to the themes of climate emergency and activism.

Audiences were welcomed in the theatre’s Cafe Bar with pre-show entertainment in form of University of Winchester singer-songwriter Joel Stobbs, who along with musical partner Parker Turner, played a set of original songs inspired by activism. The Friday night’s pre-show delights also included Blue Apple’s Special Assignments Company. They performed an introduction to their show Forgotten People, Forgotten Planet in which they embodied characters that are key players in the climate emergency.

Later, audiences took their seats in the theatre's main auditorium where they were greeted by Liam Gifford, Play to the Crowd’s Young People’s Producer and organiser of the Youth Takeover. He introduced Susan Hamilton from The Grange Festival, who screened Future Vision Films, short films created by 250 young people in Hampshire. The films, a collaboration with World Wide Fund for Nature, was an expression of hope for a sustainable future, with young people making original text, music and dance which were professionally filmed and edited. The films were originally shown at COP26 in Glasgow last November.

The main event continued with a performance of Superglue by Tim Crouch, a commissioned piece selected by the National Theatre for the National Theatre Connections Festival 2022. A specially formed NT Connections group, made up of members of our Playmaker Youth Theatre, have spent the past few months studying and rehearsing the play in their weekly sessions. Superglue tells the story of a group of climate activists gathering at a woodland burial ground to say goodbye to a friend who died during a protest.

Molly, a member of the Superglue cast, said: “I’ve enjoyed being able to work on a piece where the characters are not suited to you, but it's someone who you can develop and turn into someone you enjoy playing”. Molly continued, “I feel like it’s [Superglue] very relevant and its obviously talking about climate change which is an ongoing issue”.  Fellow cast member James said, “it’s quite important to do a show about spreading awareness and the environment, and kind of a glimpse into the future where nothing been done”.

"It was a privilege to be able to make the Playmakers Youth Takeover happen, giving agency to young people of Winchester and District to take control and present stories, ideas and provocations which they want and need to be heard, right now.”

Liam Gifford, Young People's Producer

After a short intermission, the final act of the night came from Playmakers Young Company, a group tailored to 16-25 year olds with a passion for a future in theatre. The Young Company presented Man's World / Number One, a brand new play devised by the young people that explores how we're living in a man's world and the implications this has on us all.

Anvil Arts were present on the night with The Musication (Donation) Station. It offered an opportunity for people to donate old musical instruments, which then get polished up, and passed on to a new family. The Musication Station is still happy to receive donations - these can be made at Theatre Royal Winchester's Box Office or Cafe Bar.

Liam Gifford, Young People’s Producer said, “We could not have made this possible without our partners and our thankful to them for their time and support, but our biggest thanks must go to those young people who trusted us to support them in taking over our theatre - they were all fantastic and reminded us of the importance of co-creating with our community. Here's to the next one!"

Playmakers Youth Takeover was a Play to the Crowd event created in partnership with a number of Hampshire Cultural Education Partnership organisations.

Hampshire Cultural Education Partnership (CEP) is a network of organisations in the arts, heritage, and education sectors, whose vision is for all children and young people in the county to participate in, enjoy and benefit from high quality arts and cultural opportunities.

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