Harrogate Youth Theatre are acting out
PUBLISHED: 15:26 13 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:07 20 February 2013
Making friends and having fun is what Harrogate Youth Theatre is all about say the actors who are preparing for a special outdoor production this summer. Penny Wainwright reports
A customer has arrived at the hairdressers but doesn't want his hair cutting, and a ball of human tumbleweed rolls past a couple of cowboys. There are some surreal moments at Harrogate Youth Theatre where Education Workshop Leader, Hannah Draper, is guiding a group of 14 to18 year-olds through an improvisation session.
The exercise is part of a weekly drama session organised by the 'grown-up' theatre on Harrogate's Oxford Street for young people from different schools in the area. 'It's more about learning skills - with a focus on drama,' says Hannah.
This youth theatre is one of the largest and most respected in the country and has been invited to perform at the National Theatre in London.
Does it attract pushy parents? Are sights set on TV talent shows? There's no sign of it here. 'I enjoy the youth theatre because you meet a lot of new people, make friends and socialise,' says 15 year-old Hugh Davies. 'It's got a nice feel to it. You have fun, learn a lot of things, like getting a group working well together - oh and we act, too.'
'I don't audition the children,' Hannah says. 'I don't know anything about them before they come here. Parents sometimes say, "My son/daughter is so shy," but then I find I'm looking for the shy person in the group. They can express themselves in a different way when they come here, be who they want.' Even the most reserved youngster would find it difficult to stay quiet for long in one of Hannah's workshops. Her voice warm-ups - 'Give it some energy!' - involve some quick-fire responses that rise to the sort of decibel levels that must surely contravene some EU regulation or other, and there's no room for inhibition when shoulders, elbows, thumbs and bums all make contact - briefly - with a partner's in the body-to-body game.