A young stage actress holding a skull mask

COVID-19: How the Youth Theatre Sector Has Responded

By Youth Theatre Arts Scotland

Welcome to our COVID-19 Guidance Toolkit for youth theatres and youth theatre practitioners as we all navigate the uncharted and choppy waters of the novel coronavirus and its effects on our daily lives.

Below you’ll find inspiration and links to helpful information on how the youth theatre sector is responding to the crisis. If we’ve missed anything you think we should be sharing with the sector, please get in touch and we’ll get it added as soon as we can.

COVID-19: how the youth theatre sector has responded

  • Our friends at Company Three have created a new project – When This Is Over, hot off the heels of their hugely popular Coronavirus Time Capsule project, (in which the creative learning departments at Aberdeen Performing Arts, the Beacon Arts Centre, the Lyceum, the Gaiety, Tron Theatre and Horsecross Arts, youth theatres Hidden Route, PACE, Falkirk YT, Capall Dorcha and Firefly Arts, as well as Kilgraston School all took part). More info is available on their website here.
  • We hosted I ❤ YT – a fab digital festival sharing and showcasing some of the brilliant work that has been created by young people throughout 2020. Keep an eye on our playlist to see these shows plus more work as it comes available.
  • The brilliant Wonder Fools have continued to roll out their Positive Stories for Negative Times project, which has already engaged hundreds of youth theatre groups and schools across the UK.
  • The Gaiety Theatre in Ayr created a fab Lockdown Channel. A space for the Young Company and the community to present streamed performances and participate in an exciting workshop programme.
  • Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Young Company collaborated with Wonder Fools to produce The New Normal – a collection of monologues written and performed by the company in their own homes during lockdown.
  • Scottish Youth Theatre launched a fab digital version of their National Artistic Programme, including RESURGENCE – a Scottish and international creative inquiry into the public concern of inequality, to support the recovery and renewal of youth arts provision as it emerges from the confines of 2020.
  • Our friends in Ireland, Kildare Youth Theatre, have come up with a Quarantine Festival featuring activities such as the Viral Words Playwrighting Project, a short video competition called Vid-Nineteen, and other fun activities.
  • Strange Town asked their members to sum up what Strange Town means to them in one word, and they have compiled the responses in this awesome video.
  • Dundee Rep Theatre worked on weekly tasks for the Where are you Dundee? online collaborative artwork project.
  • Edinburgh Youth Theatre produced #70videosforlockdown on their YouTube channel!
  • Toonspeak shifted their work to offer a cultural care package. This includes Projects By Post (sending out arts and crafts supplies and activity packs designed by their artists to give kids and their families hands-on things to do), Creative Calm (pairing up young people with artists to help promote improved mental health and resilience), and Digital Access to Creativity (helping young people get online and have access to the resources they need to pursue their own creative projects, with a little help from artists).
  • Tron Theatre continued work with their Young Ambassadors, a scheme that enables young people to experience a range of the career opportunities available within a fully-operational theatre.
  • PACE managed to engage around 400 young people through their extensive digital creative programme, including weekly online classes, storytelling sessions, weekly creative tasks and challenges, additional masterclasses and opportunities, social events, an extensive library of digital theatre to access, a play reading club, industry Q+A sessions, and online performance projects. Their Stories from Isolation project encourages young people to write and create inspired by different weekly stimuli and the work created will be pulled together into a performance when this is all over. They also have a new industry preparation group, supporting young people who are currently training or who are keen to embark on a career in the creative sector.
  • At the Root Theatre (formerly the Regal Youth Company) hosted a Stay at Home Concert where lots of local musicians helped them to celebrate their fifth birthday. They also overhauled their programme and rebranded, offering new and exciting opportunities for children and young people to access regular creative activity in West Lothian. 
  • Triple Act Theatre (formerly Capall Dorcha Ensemble) have been enjoying some fun and varied creative tasks, such as abstract painting, photography, art criticism, and making crafts out of loo roll tubes! All this on top of online classes and their Coronavirus Time Capsule contributions!
  • A number of successful Micro Grants applicants used their money for research and development and we couldn’t be more excited about their ideas. Overdrive Dance Company and Third Thread investigated how to take their highly physical work online. Ochils Community Youth Improvement have undertaken a consultation process with their young people about what they want to do next. And Freelance Artist Rachael Keiller is currently researching how to set up a new youth project in her native Fife. Watch this space!
  • In a move to tackle the pandemic head on, a number of YTAS members used their Micro Grant funds to purchase a range of PPE equipment to get them back in the room sooner! We hosted a PPE and Practicalities Swap Shop in October to hear from Strange Town, Regal Youth Company, Glasgow Acting Academy, Largs YT and freelancer Marilyn Blyth Wilson about their experience and how they plan to use this in the studio.
  • What do you do when your freelance work dries up during a pandemic? You create your own company! And that’s exactly what 3 of our freelance members have done with their new company Orbit of the Moon.
  • With updated Government guidance, some youth theatres have returned to face to face delivery in small groups and others are continuing to brave the Scottish weather and work outside. Performance Collective Stranraer have built “PCS Oasis” – an outdoor space for their young artists to meet, whilst Firefly Arts have been delivering their outdoor “Joy Sessions” to offer a space for their young people to reconnect. Up in Angus, Freelance Artist Amy Hall Gibson is piloted an outdoor youth theatre to explore the process of working outdoors with young people. These three projects were discussed and learning was shared at a lively panel discussion at I ❤ YT, our digital youth theatre festival, in November 2020.
  • Other groups are exploring the weird and wonderful world of Blended Learning, with YTAS members Theatre Sans Accents starting a new project for families “My Wee French Box”. Whilst MBArts and Creative Spark Theatre Arts are still offering online projects to complement their face to face work.


Have we missed anything? Have your group been up to anything that you’d like to share? Drop us a line and we’ll add it to our list. Let’s spread the good ideas far and wide!

Share

You might also like...

View our resources for youth theatre groups, theatres, practitioners and  professionals

A young theatre performer talking into a microphone
Toolkit
Video
Getting Started
Toolkit
COVID-19: Phased Renewal of YT Activities