We speak to Louise Flooks, Participation Manager at the Unity Theatre in Liverpool about Unity Young Creatives and getting involved in theatre across Merseyside
This April, we launched our Unity Young Creatives Programme for 14-18 year olds, built on the foundations of our Unity Youth Theatre which has been running since 2004. The relaunch of the programme was in the response to the fact that we had more and more young people coming to the Youth Theatre as musicians, budding writers, and composers, as well as those interested in spoken word poetry and physical theatre.
Young Creatives is for young people who are interested exploring all aspects of the creative arts. There’s no audition or formal application process and recruitment is done on a first come first served basis. Our weekly workshops and projects have huge scope, ranging from creating multimedia film pieces, to working with writers and a diverse range of practitioners and artists to develop devised theatre and other productions.
Our work is participant led
It’s not just about giving young people parts to perform in a play. Our work is participant led. When creating theatre, our Young Creatives work together as a company to devise new work informed by the themes and issues they want to explore. The shows we create are a great way to learn more about actually working in theatre, as we usually have an intense rehearsal period where the company work really closely with the professional production team. It gives them the chance to learn more what it actually takes to put on a production and what each member of the creative and production team does. Even if a young person can’t commit to the whole rehearsal period, we do try to offer other opportunities to contribute to a show so everyone gets a chance to learn.
The majority of our participants will go on to explore a career in the creative industries in some way; we’ve had people go onto work in film and media, who have gone on to study drama and performing arts, and those who have done something completely different. There are so many things on offer in Merseyside, so we will always sign post our participants to other opportunities and development programmes.
The ecology of the arts in Liverpool is brilliant
The ecology of the arts in Liverpool is brilliant; there is a huge amount of collaboration between local creatives and arts organisations so it’s a great place to be a young creative.
If you were looking to pursue a career in theatre, I’d recommend trying to take up any and every opportunity you can. Look for stuff on your doorstep, get involved in anything your school might offer, see what opportunities are available at local arts organisations, and join a youth group as even if they aren’t drama specific the staff can be brilliant at supporting your development and signposting you to opportunities. I would also recommend seeing as much theatre as you can by taking advantage of the ticket offers and discounts available, including through our Creative Membership programme.
It’s all about putting yourself in the environment, which is relatively easy to do in Liverpool as creativity exists on all levels in the area. There are theatres and venues of all shapes and sizes offering different things to do and watch, and in terms of further study there are numerous colleges offering creative courses and also LIPA and LJMU for further study, which means that every year there’s a wealth of new talent coming to the city from across the country and across the globe.
There is a long tradition of telling stories in Liverpool, of real people, of real lives
Liverpool is a city that supports and thrives off of culture. There is a long tradition of telling stories here, of real people, of real lives on local streets and that is something we often explore at Unity and through Young Creatives. We want to create authentic work, about real voices that dispel the myths that theatre is just for rich, formally educated people; theatre is for everyone.
Over the years, I’ve seen the huge benefit taking part has on young people. It can improve your mental health, overall wellbeing and your sense of self and social belonging. Participation is good for you, so get involved!
Find out more about the Unity Theatres’ Young Creatives Programme and other ways you can get involved here.
This interview is part of National Youth Theatre's Young People in Theatre mailing list which you can sign up to here