Thursday, 9 September 2010

Afterschool activities in Edinburgh: Strange Town Youth Theatre

The next activity up for review is one for the older kids. This is kind of a review of an activity but also of a venue. A has been attending a Drama class for a while now and took part in their summer workshop which he enjoyed immensely.

The company is called Strange Town Youth Theatre and is run by Ruth Hollyman and Steve Small. Both have extensive experience in the theatre and the arts and do a wonderful job of supporting the kids. When I approached Ruth about A's autism, she welcomed the challenge and he has really blossomed under her tuition.

Strange Town is a theatre company which aims to enable young people to fulfil their creative potential.  Strange Town seeks to fill a gap in quality theatre provision for 5-25 year olds in Edinburgh. They believe that everyone has creative and artistic abilities, and through encouragement, participation and example, we hope to enable young people to recognize and develop these. Strange Town’s directors and leaders offer their skills and experience as a resource to local communities and schools. Strange Town encourages theatre going and theatre making. Strange Town works with a wide range of artists; actors, designers, directors, writers, musicians and dancers, to explore creative possibilities and to offer links to the profession for young people, should this be the route they want to follow. 

Alfie managed to catch the last half of the spring term classes and so participated in the big performance that the company put on at the end of the term. This time, the Spring performances were held at the Scottish Storytelling Centre and the show 'Laughing at Clouds' was a huge success! I was overjoyed to be among other equally proud parents and relatives watching our kids on stage.

The summer workshop was equally as exciting and stimulating for the kids. A week long workshop saw the kids putting on a spectacular performance at the end of the week. The kids all help formulate and write the script around a chosen theme just like the term time classes. The spring show 'Laughing at Clouds' was written around the theme of freedom and told the tale of Lily and her big brother (played by the wonderful A) who as the new kids at a school experienced very different receptions from their peer groups which impinged on their freedom.  The theme for the holiday workshop was favourite stories and all of the kids were asked to take in their favourite book and the show saw them perform snippets of scenes from each of the books.

The classes are held at the venue Out of the Blue at the Drill Hall in Dalmeny Street, Leith. We discovered this place through attending the classes but have been going there outside of this. It's a wonderful project that leases studio and production space to Edinburgh's artists, musicians, charities et al. It has a wonderful cafe and a lively artistic community. They also run a community shop, selling crafts, ethical goods, Ecover refills, home-made preserves and veg from the local allotments.

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