Rural Theatre pulls youngsters out of Lockdown mode

A rural Shropshire theatre is helping youngsters break out of Lockdown-mode and come together again with a number of creative workshops and activities throughout the summer.

Jackie Clementine, from Ernie's Journey Circus theatre and workshop
Jackie Clementine, from Ernie’s Journey Circus theatre and workshop

The SpArC Theatre in Bishop’s Castle is holding the Rock Project workshop, where young people can learn a new instrument and then join up to form a band, as well as a Poetry Slam session.

Liz Stills, SpArC Theatre and Arts Manager, said the theatre, which is run by Enterprise South West Shropshire, based in Enterprise House in the centre of Bishops Castle, wanted to focus on creating an outlet for creativity among the town’s young people.

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She said: “The idea is to give kids the opportunity to access free practice space and somewhere they can also access support for their projects.

“We want to give them the tools so they could start a band, perform their own music, do their own thing.  The fear was they might go into Lockdown mode again when the summer holidays hit.”

The project kicked off with The Rock Project taster workshop on June 26 and continues on July 3. It involves young people choosing an instrument , from guitar, bass guitar, drums or vocal and then going into groups to learn a song.

“They will then come back and perform as a group,” Liz said. “We will follow it up with technical support, free practice space and performance opportunities as the kids need it.”

The Poetry Slam workshop will take place on August 6 with workshops for 7-11-year-olds, 12 to 17-year-olds and 18 to 30-years-old and will be run by Giovanni Esposito, aka Spoz, an award-winning performance poet, singer/songwriter, film maker, playwright and poet-in-residence at Birmingham City Football Club.

“It will be really energetic and a world-away from the traditional view of poetry.

“We wanted something different from music that drama students might also be interested in,” said Liz. “It’s about finding their own voice as well as listening to their peers.”

The theatre also works with Arts Alive to bring a variety of events to the South West Shropshire community.

This summer, the Arts Alive Summer Festival: Live: Music, Theatre and Storytelling will take place from July 9 to 10th, featuring artists from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The event was originally due to take place as an autumn festival, then a winter festival and is now, finally, a summer festival.

“We are delighted to finally be able to hold the festival at last,” said Liz. “There will certainly be something for everyone from English Folk duo Whalebone with poet Jean Atkin, who are performing Understories, to story-telling on Saturday lunchtime to a musical evening of entertainment,” said Liz.

July 27 will see a fantastic circus theatre adventure called Ernie’s Journey, which will also include an adventurous circus skills workshop with Jackie Clemntine.

“We are so thrilled to be able to offer events like this again for the community,” said Liz. “It wouldn’t be possible without the support of ESWS, which not only runs the finances and accounts but also supports me as the theatre’s only paid employee.

“ESWS does all the printing for the theatre and helps with the equipment and testing.

“They are my colleagues and it’s great to have a wider family of people to help support me and the theatre.”

Rob McKay, manager at ESWS, said the organisation took on the running of the theatre in 2013.

He said: “Without ESWS’ support, the theatre’s future in Bishop’s Castle would have been in jeopardy. We are very proud of the work we do and the theatre is a respected venue for live music and productions.”

The theatre is also supported by volunteers in the community, who work as Front of House, stewards and seating and staging crew. Anyone interesting in volunteering should get in touch with Liz on liz@sparctheatre.co.uk

Entertainment – Shropshire Live