The King’s Lynn Youth Theatre opened its doors for the first time, many years ago, under the Directorship of Jenny Duda. Jenny had an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of Dramatists, Theatre and performing arts, and she combined this with an incredible imagination and set about writing original pieces of theatre for young people. The subject matter for the plays was as varying and diverse as the members who attended.
I Joined the Youth Theatre at the tender age of 13, not really knowing what to expect, and I found myself amongst young people who were not afraid of sharing ideas and investing everything they had into their performances, without the fear of being mocked. The Drama I experienced at the Youth Theatre was an entire universe away from what I encountered at school, it was challenging and exciting and it inspired me for the rest of my life. It is safe to say I was hooked immediately.
The first play I was in was called “Polish Hospitality” and it was about the German occupation of Poland during the Second World War. I remember feeling so special, that we as a group were being trusted with such a powerful and complex theme. It was this trust and belief in the capabilities of the Youth Theatre that elevated the students from feeling like mere children and gave them the confidence to be powerful actors. The expectations of the actors in the Youth Theatre were such that you had to rise to the challenge and as a result, the quality of the work would increase with each and every performance.
I spent nine years as a member of the King’s Lynn Youth Theatre and its partner adult company, ‘The Sweet Mongrels’, also directed by Jenny Duda. By the end of my time with both groups, drama was my life and so it was inevitable that I would go to University to study the craft further. I would still return to King’s Lynn to perform with the groups during my semester breaks. While at university, the Youth Theatre closed as the director moved to St Ives in Cornwall, this saddened me because I knew that although there were other amateur dramatic societies in King’s Lynn, none of them were quite like the Youth Theatre, with its eccentricities and originality.
Upon graduating from University, I spent my time teaching in Primary schools, writing, producing and directing original plays for their respective drama clubs and groups. I still missed the unrestricted and innovative nature of the Youth Theatre greatly and with kind permission form Jenny Duda, I took the reins and re-established the group as the new Creative Director. It was my firmest desire that the founding principals of empowering young people and developing their skills, through the medium of original theatre, remained paramount.
To date, the Youth Theatre is going from strength to strength, with an eclectic troop of actors from King’s Lynn and the surrounding communities, which is growing in numbers weekly. The cast have produced pieces of work that range from the sublime to the down-right ridiculous, from street theatre to full-scale productions. The structure of the Youth Theatre consists of two parts, the first being a series of skills development workshops with a view to casting and establishing concepts that will appear in future productions, the second part is the commencement of rehearsals for the play.
What makes my approach to the development of the actors performing skills different to many other theatre companies is that I write for my actors. In the workshop sessions, I obtain a profile of the abilities of each individual, their strengths and areas where there needs to be further work. I will then write a part for each individual, which will support their abilities and yet challenge them, so the entire process becomes one of continual personal growth and learning.
The King’s Lynn Youth Theatre meets every Saturday at the Red Cross building on Austin Fields, from 1.30pm to 4pm at a cost of £4.50 per session. The Next Youth Theatre Production of ‘A Classic Experience’ will be shown at King’s Lynn Academy’s North Hall on the 16th and 17th of March at 7pm. Tickets cost £5.00. View Poster
If you are interested in coming along to see the show or if you are interested in becoming a member of the King’s Lynn Youth Theatre, please contact Luke Goold on 07760564061 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or you can also visit our Facebook page facebook.com/kingslynnyouththeatre
I am proud to say that the Youth Theatre is still a place where any young person can attend and be supported in their work by their peers and professionals alike.