‘Diverse and Energetic’ St Mary’s Youth Theater Completes First Year

12 teenage actors from the Drama St Mary’s Youth Theater at St Mary’s University, Twickenham have graduated from the prestigious National Saturday Club programme.

The Youth Theater members were celebrated at the National Saturday Club Graduation ceremony in June, and a short film of their work was displayed in the prestigious annual Summer Show, hosted at Somerset House’s Embankment Galleries.

Image: Play rehearsals supervised by our BA Acting students, Daniela and Eden Credit: St Mary’s University, Twickenham

To close the Youth Theatre’s first year, their planned play, built on themes of family, education and expectations, was performed at St Mary’s on Saturday 2na July, to a joyful response from their families and friends.

The Drama St Mary’s Youth Theater is a free Saturday drama club for young people aged 13-16, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds. It is part of the National Saturday Club strand ‘Writing & Talking’, which supports young people to develop their critical thinking, curiosity and communication skills.

The Youth Theater is part of St Mary’s commitment to widening participation in Higher Education and the arts. During this first year, the teenage Youth Theater members have established a supportive, collaborative group in which to co-create and perform.

Our young people have said it’s a real treat to create and play in such a kind atmosphere… I am so proud of all of them, and the committed performers they have become this year.
Nancy Bentley, Widening Participation Manager at St Mary’s

masterclass with Director Ed Burnside
Image: Masterclass with Director Ed Burnside (centre), Youth Theater members and staff, March 2022. Credit: National Saturday Club

The National Saturday Club have provided support for the Youth Theater and hosted a range of special events, including a Masterclass with an industry expert. This March, Ed Burnside, Senior Rehearsal Director for Matilda the Musical, led a Masterclass exploring core theater skills such as memorizing scripts and ensemble work. A member of the Youth Theater said “The Masterclass was stimulating, and challenged me. It gave me way more confidence than normal.”

Head of Drama at St Mary’s, Mark Griffin said, “Our staff team loves running the Youth Theatre. Our inaugural Youth Theater Director, Samuel Adebayo, has been closely supported by three final year BA Acting students, Michael Hawkey, Eden Maye and Daniela Roberts Santos, who will shortly graduate and pursue their acting careers. Over the year, these students have begun developing into amazing Drama educators in their own right, and have been inspiring and motivating our wonderful young Youth Theater members.”

Nancy Bentley, Widening Participation Manager at St Mary’s said “Just give it a try! Take a look at the videos, photos and quotes from our current group on our website or Instagram account. Our young people have said it’s a real treat to create and play in such a kind atmosphere – they don’t mind getting up on a Saturday morning, because it’s for the Youth Theatre. I am so proud of all of them, and the committed performers they have become this year.”

There are many benefits for young people who take part in National Saturday Clubs, Drama St Mary’s Youth Theater Director Samuel Adebayo said “We are all about supporting, creating and developing each other’s personalities and senses of self. And hopefully being able to take these skills out into the world and be better people- essentially, that’s what I hope for. Come join us!”

Young people aged 13-16 can apply now for the autumn 2022 intake of the Youth Theatre. Visit the National Saturday Club website and select ‘St Mary’s University – Writing and Talking’ to express your interest in joining the Youth Theatre.

Free places for the Youth Theater will be prioritized for young people who are underrepresented in Higher Education and the arts. This includes but isn’t limited to students eligible for Free School Meals, students with a disability, or students from an ethnic minority group, including Gypsy Roma and Traveler communities.

To find out more please visit the University website or email the Youth Theater team directly.

Youth Theater at Drama St Mary’s – National Saturday Club Summer Show 2022, Phoenix Feather Productions

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