Every Summer we welcome a group of young people to Bodens on Monday mornings, and send them off at the end of the week hoping they have enjoyed a week of their summer. They make new friends, at least for the week. They appear to grow in confidence, standing on a stage of sorts in front of some people, taking risks, achieving personally etc. etc. etc... and they grow creatively, well they must, because after all, we've been doing 'stuff' to do with the 'arts' and... things. But how do we know all this? How do we know they've grown in confidence because of the project they've undertaken? How do we know their confidence wouldn't have grown more in other areas by staying at home and freeing eleven hostages in an X Box provided situation? How do we know they've grown in creativity? I was in Pinnochio once. I remember wetting myself backstage. That's all I remember. I didn't grow creatively, and if I said I did, then perhaps my nose would be growing, but not creatively. How do we know the project will have any affect on a young person whatsoever in a rapidly changing world becoming more and more difficult to prove the impact and sustainability of anything when so many factors play a part in so much of the development of our young people.
Most of the time we can't prove the impact in the present, or the
sustainability in the future.... but we do know it's there... because we can
see it. As Theatre Practitioners working with children and young people, we see
it present in their shiny eyes. We see it throughout the week as they begin to
take more moments. We see it during the lunch break as the inhibitions vanish
and relationships blossom. We see it behind the stage, and then on it.
And we know it works. Because we're not just out of work actors, singers who
have sung their last aria, or dancers that have hung up our ballet shoes. Our team at
Bodens is a team of teachers. Take me... I'm actually an Applied Theatre
practitioner specialising in the development of young people through the
provision of safe risk in a theatrical environment. Sounds good, doesn't
it. It should do. I spent ages on it. I know it works because that's my
craft. It's what I do. How I teach. We don't just put on a little show... Well
we do... But it's how we do it. How we provide the young people with a platform
to perform as themselves... to have a voice that is heard. How we give them
opportunities of safe and manageable risk so they can step outside of their
comfort zones and increase their sense of achievement, growing their
self-belief. Drama isn't the soft subject. It's an incredibly important
opportunity to grow as a person, achieve amazing things, and while you're at
it, put on some really, really good theatre.
Our 2015 devised theatre course started from scratch and ended up embroiled in the world of the Cambodian street children. A group of thirty incredible young people created a story of hope, fear and understanding. They didn't just create an astonishing and powerful piece of theatre... they thought about the world, and their position in it. They made others aware through their research and performance. They gave children from half way across the world a voice here, through verbatim work. Additionally, they raised money for a Cambodian street child. That's a perfect example of Applied Theatre. It entertains, informs, opens dialogues, and where it can, it's nice if it educates us all in some way, staff and students alike... after all... we're also on the summer course. We might as well learn something too.
For one of this year's courses we're going a step further and in a
different direction, with a film production week. We'll be writing and
shooting an entire film in just one week, and after a couple of months
off, returning for a premier cinema screening. Even the young people on
our popstars course will be shooting a music video to accompany their
Saturday night theatre performance. Even within a week of choreography
paired with singing performance and technique, there's still room for
personal challenges and ways to maintain a sense of fun, crucial to
keeping our young people engaged from start to finish. For the youngest
students, aged 4 - 6 years, they all get individual chances to shine in a
safe environment as their confidence builds throughout the week as we
explore some incredible stories and immerse ourselves in adventure and
And that's some of what we'll be doing this summer. It was great last year. You're more
than welcome to come along and join us. Here's a little video that shows some of what we got up to last year.