Who’d have Thunk-It! York company to host youth theatre sessions in tandem with Pocklington Arts Centre from February 28

Youth theatre hosts: Thunk-It Theatre’s Becky Lennon and Jules Risingham

YORK company Thunk-It Theatre are partnering with Pocklington Arts Centre to provide youth theatre for the East Riding and beyond.

Weekly drama classes will be available to children aged six to 11 from February 28, initially on Zoom until it is safe to re-open the Market Place venue, when sessions can be held in person.

The all-levels drama sessions for Years 2 to -6 will take place from 10am to 11am every Sunday during term time .

This new youth theatre project has emerged from a free project that Thunk-It founder-directors Becky Lennon and Jules Risingham have delivered throughout January and February, presenting similar sessions online to alleviate the stress of home-schooling for young people and their parents or carers. 

The drama classes will provide an opportunity for children to be involved in Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC), be creative and meet other children. 

The poster for Thunk-It Youth Theatre, run in tandem with Pocklington Arts Centre

PAC director Janet Farmer says: “We’re delighted to be teaming up with York company Thunk-It Theatre to introduce all the fun and joy of performing arts to children, something that we feel is especially important at the moment when children are perhaps looking for something extra to do around their home-learning. 

“The online sessions Thunk-It have delivered so far have proved to be really successful, so to be able to expand on this online offering initially is such a fantastic opportunity, and we look forward to welcoming budding young performers through our doors for their classes when it’s safe for us to do so.”

The Thunk-It Youth Theatre sessions will include fun games, exercises, storytelling and much more. “In this pilot term, we hope to create a small piece of performance that all parents and carers will be able to see at the end of the term,” say Becky and Jules. 

“We’re so excited to create this new partnership with such a well-loved venue and vital part of the community. We can’t wait to start delivering these sessions and getting to know more about the young people in and around Pocklington.”

Drama-class tickets are on sale at a fee of £30 for the five sessions with sibling discounts available. For more information and to book a place, visit pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk. More details on Thunk-It Theatre can be found on their Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts via @Thunkittheatre. 

York Theatre Royal takes Youth Theatre online for new term of interactive sessions

Harvey Harrison, aged eight, taking part in a York Theatre Royal Youth Theatre online session at home in York

YORK Theatre Royal’s Youth Theatre is back in action…online, complete with scavenger hunts and kitchen discos.

The St Leonard’s Place building remains closed under Lockdown 3 strictures, ruling out the usual face-to-face sessions there, but here comes Zoom to lift any feelings of doom and gloom for participants in one of the North’s largest youth theatres.

Youth Theatre membership takes in 150 children and young people from across York and the surrounding areas, divided into ten age groups spanning five to 19, with each group working towards developing skills and experience in a variety of theatre disciplines.

Five groups for the older members began in November but had to be moved online after the first session in response to the second lockdown.

“These proved really successful,” says Julian Ollive, head of creative engagement.  “Face-to-face contact with our young people, being in the same space, working collaboratively and creatively, is really what we’re about and what we value. Unfortunately, this new lockdown has thwarted our ability to go live but we’re going ahead with running our classes online again.”

Julian continues: “In a time of great uncertainty, we believe it’s important to begin the process of coming back to a ‘normal’, which, for us, is working directly with children and young people in our community.

Martha and Wilf in an age five to eight group session on Zoom with practitioner Fiona Baistow, assistant Fiona and mentor Katherine

“Although we would have loved to welcome back our members face to face, we’re  excited by the creative challenges and opportunities that working online will bring.”

Youth Theatre director Kate Veysey says: “Offering youth theatre online gives us new opportunities to connect with the young people in different ways. We feel this is even more important at a time when they have additional pressures on them.

“The chance to connect, to work with their friends and make new ones, and be creative together, is fantastic.

“It’s been really wonderful welcoming back our young people to youth theatre, as well as some new members. In our first week back, we’ve had scavenger hunts, kitchen discos and props and costumes from everyone’s homes. It’s a joy to work together. 

“Our practitioners are relishing the challenge of making our online delivery as exciting and vibrant as our live sessions have been in the past until we can safely offer these again.”

The 14 to 19 age group is rehearsing the play Tuesday for NT Connections, a digital festival that brings together groups from around the country, this year remotely. In light of the festival going online, rehearsals are applying options within this format, such as breakout rooms to work on separate scenes, using props and making sound effects from home sources to support the text.

York Theatre Royal Youth Theatre’s 14 to 19 company working on the play Tuesday for the NT Connections festival

Among those joining in the new 2021 sessions from home in York is eight-year-old Harvey Harrison, pictured above, whose mother Hayley says: “Harvey has been a member of Youth Theatre for just over two years and in that time the activity has brought him a huge amount of pleasure.

“It’s been a fantastic creative outlet for a child who is often, socially anyway, quite reserved and he has developed a new-found bravery and sense of poise. The physical thrill he gets from the performance opportunities is perfectly complemented by his quiet and growing confidence.”

In part inspired by the impact of taking the York Theatre Royal Travelling Pantomime to community venues last month, the Theatre Royal is planning to move the Youth Theatre further out into the community once restrictions allow.

Friargate Meeting House and New Earswick Folk Hall will then host groups throughout the week, as well as the Youth Theatre continuing to work in spaces at the Theatre Royal.

“We’re excited by the prospect of continuing the reach into our community, so positively felt and received through the Travelling Pantomime,” said Julian.

Visit yorktheatreroyal.co.uk for more information on joining York Theatre Royal Youth Theatre and applying online for a Y card, the new youth membership scheme. The card costs £5 and provides notifications when spaces in the youth theatre become available, invitations to games sessions and tasters, discounted membership rates on tickets, events and much more.

Go to: https://www.yorktheatreroyal.co.uk/be-part-of-it/children-and-young-people/youth-theatre/ or email youththeatre@yorktheatreroyal.co.uk