Here at Young Actors Company we believe it’s really important for our members to have a well rounded experience of performing that encompasses all sorts of styles and venues. We have filmed, we have performed outdoors, in studios and on main stages. Having guest practitioners come to work with our members is an important part of this as they get to learn from experts in highly specialised areas living them a wide variety of high quality skills to draw on for their productions. It is also fantastic CPD for our group Directors, Assistants and Mentors who get to participate and learn too!
This term, thanks to ACE funding, we were lucky enough to have not one but 4 masterclasses for our members. These were all aimed at helping them to get ready for their productions based on the themes of memory and traditional stories working with our older participants in Merton Plays. You can read more about the intergenerational work this year here.
First up was Tim McArthur, a professional theatre director from K-Squared productions, who delivered us a masterclass in voice; how to warm up, how to be heard and how to use it to convey feeling and intention. The young people loved the variety of exercises with everyone having a different opinion on which was their favourite.
Professional Stunt Man, Acrobat, Actor, Dancer, Parkour / Movement artist Ericson Mitchell worked with our groups on developing some acrobatic balances and group tricks that they will be able to incorporate in to their productions.
He says of his work “I’ve been in the industry for just over 10 years and feel very blessed to constantly be living my dream and doing what I love. I constantly want to share and inspire others to grow and do what they love in life.”
Xana is a sound designer/artist, live loop musician, composer, performer, theatre maker and poet who has worked on critically-acclaimed theatre shows and performed around the world. Xana’s creative work focuses on archives and embodying our future narratives and memories through sci-fi, magical realism and blending their genres orchestral noise/thick bass.
Xana features on the award-winning track Afronaut on the Mercury prize-nominated Driftglass by Seed Ensemble. Xana is one of the Associate Artists at Ovalhouse Theatre with their debut show Swallowing Your Idols, co-organiser of Afrotech Fest, publishes the children’s comic Afronaut Squad and was a 2020 Offie-finalist for Best Sound Design.
Xana’s workshop focussed on the power that sound has to help us tell a story. Through creative exercises our brilliant young people unleashed their voices in devised scenes to create atmosphere, express feelings and to help the audience locate the scenes. Xana expertly broke down the process and offered a plethora of brilliant skills for our young theatre makers to adapt and bring into their own practice.
Creating dementia friendly theatre
We were very fortunate to have Smashing Mirrors Theatre join us for our final masterclass of the term. Established in 2017 by theatre-maker Elizabeth Godber in East Yorkshire, they have grown to become one of the UK’s leading dementia-friendly and dementia-awareness theatre companies, performing across the UK with their dementia-awareness musical “Three Emos”, which was twice funded by Arts Council England and running local dementia-awareness productions across Yorkshire.
Members created scenes based on classic fairytales and worked with Smashing Mirrors to make them as dementia friendly as possible. They also discussed ways in which they can make the space dementia friendly.
We can’t wait to see how the groups will take this work and apply it to their productions at New Wimbledon Theatre Studio in 2023.
If you, or a young person you know, would like to join Young Actors Company, why not complete the form here.