YTAS meets Molly Goyer Gorman, an experienced youth drama facilitator, as she embarks on a three-year PhD researching the social value of youth theatre in rural areas of Northern Ireland – pulling out a few drama games along the way!
From Queen’s University Belfast, Molly is exploring four rural communities across the region in which there are active youth theatre groups.
Using interviews and drama workshops, Molly will be finding out how young people in these areas value their youth theatre: what does it mean to them? What keeps them coming back? She will also be speaking with parents, youth leaders and local authorities to find out how youth drama is viewed and valued by the wider community.
“In 2013 I completed an MA dissertation looking at the buildings used by youth drama groups in small towns and villages across Northern Ireland. There seemed to be some communities where sport was valued much more than drama as a ‘suitable’ or ‘appropriate’ activity for young people. Young people from these areas reported that at school, those who were good at sports were “treated like gods” whereas the people who were into drama were considered “a wee bit weird”. Another issue that came up during my dissertation was the experience of young men from rural areas involved in drama. One young man who now works as an actor said to me: “What 15-year-old boy from my village is going to put down his hurling stick and say: ‘No, I want to do drama?” These insights got me interested in doing a more in-depth study on youth theatre in rural areas. By comparing the perspectives of participants with those of the wider community, I hope to build a broad evidence base about the impacts which youth theatre can have in small places.”
– Molly Goyer Gorman