Voluntary Arts Week 2017 – Spotlight on West Lothian

Did you know that 50% of people that work in youth theatre are volunteers? From the Fri 5 – Sun 14 May 2017, it’s Voluntary Arts Week across Scotland – a time to celebrate and share the work of voluntary arts groups. We’ll be shining a spotlight on some of the youth theatre leaders who volunteer their time to create brilliant theatre experiences for young people.

Regal Youth Company and VolunteersNext up in the spotlight is Laura Firth from the Regal Youth Company in Bathgate who has spent more years in youth theatre than out of it! She chatted to us about her group and why she’s so excited about youth theatre.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I’ve been involved in some aspect of youth theatre for 15 years which is quite a lot when I’m only 22. It takes up a large proportion of my life, despite having a job and also being at university but I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. I am really into film as well as theatre, which is what I’m currently studying at Stirling University, I like to find ways to incorporate this into theatre as much as possible. Other than the RYC, uni and working, my puppy Buzz takes up quite a bit of my time too. Buzz is our wee RYC mascot!

How would you describe your group in 5 words?

Mature and inspiring beyond belief.

How did you get involved in running your Youth Theatre?

It was my friend that had been involved in the creation of the RYC, and I had come along to film the company for part of my college coursework and somehow just found myself then never leaving. It seemed to stem from just being at a couple of music workshops, to then it basically become 90% of my life.

What role do volunteers play in your organisation?

The whole organisation is run by volunteers. We have a committee and then different teams (workshop team, production team, marketing team, etc) that all work together to create shows and make sure our workshops run efficiently. We currently have 16 volunteers in the running of the company, some playing more of a day-to-day role than others but each person as vital as the next. We have three workshops a week, and roughly about four shows a year, along with promoting our shows, designing and building sets, other events that we are asked to perform in and the general planning of what’s going on. It sometimes turns into a bit of a full time job for us.

What do you enjoy most about Youth Theatre?

It is so refreshing, it’s just so much fun to be involved in and know that you are making a difference. The most amazing thing is seeing children on their first few weeks being all shy and unable to speak two words to then a few weeks later you can’t get them to be quiet. We’ve had feedback from parents as well to say how much their child has grown in confidence even outwith our workshops which is just amazing. I think the best moments for me is right after we’ve finished a show and the curtains are closing and there’s this overwhelming sense of relief and pride that we just pulled off another great show. The members have all had a fantastic time and there is usually some sort of great cheer and it just puts everything into perspective, making everything seem worthwhile.

What are you working on right now?

Currently we have a music show in the midst, we are putting together an hour set of group songs and solos that will be performed as part of our Summer show where we will invite a couple of other artists to join us for a night of music. We also have smaller drama show that the members have devised themselves that is due to be performed on the 14th of May and lastly we have our National Festival of Youth Theatre show, “404”, also in production at the moment too.

Find out more about Regal Youth Company by visiting their website at www.rycbathgate.com

Voluntary Arts Festival runs from Fri 5 – Sun 14 May 2017 and is a project of Voluntary Arts who work to promote and increase active participation in creative cultural activities across the UK and Republic of Ireland.

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