In January Manchester Royal Exchange’s Young Company was named School of the Year at The Stage Theatre Awards. “The young company are a huge part of what we do at the Exchange” Matt Hassall, Royal Exchange Young Company director commented in response to receiving the award – and it’s true that the Royal Exchange is full to the brim with opportunities for young people from Greater Manchester to access training.
Every year the Royal Exchange recruits a company of diverse young talent, offering the chance to develop across 12 months as Digital Content Creators, Directors, Facilitators, Performers, Producers, Technicians and Writers. As well as regular workshops, Company Members are invited along to Royal Exchange shows, forums and masterclasses and get access to mentoring opportunities from theatre staff.
The Young Company also get the chance to create their own studio show, a devised show and a show made in collaboration with the theatre’s Elders’ Company across their year with the theatre. The company’s most recent production Mixtape saw the company devise and create a new kind of musical – part gig, part play, part party – exploring what it means to call Manchester home as a young person.
"The young company are a huge part of what we do at the Exchange"
Every aspect of the production process is permeated by young company members, and every company member lends a hand to getting the piece up on its feet. The company’s Young Creatives division offers a development opportunity for aspiring directors, facilitators and producers, allowing them to get hands on experience in devising work, whilst Young Performers allows young actors to learn to work as an ensemble guided by professional directors.
The Young Writers scheme does what it says on the tin and more, supporting aspiring writers in honing their craft – allowing them develop their playwriting skills and develop their own style before writing a monologue which is then performed at the Royal Exchange. Finally, for those who prefer things backstage rather than on-stage there’s the Young Company Technicians programme for anyone 14 – 21 looking to learn the skills needed to design and create a professional production.
Manchester is an ever growing creative hub, and the opportunities for young creatives to collaborate with the Royal Exchange don’t stop at the Young Company. Last week the theatre announced the launch of the Hodgkiss Award 2018 – which support the realisation of a new piece of theatre created by an artist or company based in the North. Applications are now open for the award which offers a £4000 prize, mentoring, a staging of the production at Royal Exchange’s Studio Theatre, a supported transfer of the work to The Yard and ARC Stockton and more.
Fancy getting involved in the Royal Exchange youth programme? Applications for the 2018-19 Royal Exchange Young Company will be opening soon, head over to their website for more information.
This article is part of the National Youth Theatre's Young People in Theatre monthly newsletter, giving a monthly run down on all the latest news and opportunities for young people in theatre.
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