On my travels I found a 1920s cinema which had fallen into a state of dilapidation but as you can see from the picture has now been converted into a swish theatre for children and young people. There are 200 comfortable seats and a walkway round the sides to the back of the auditorium. Finished in black and grey, it is very adaptable for different kinds of productions.
I have long been an advocate for children’s theatres all over the country. I think every large town and city should have one. I like converted buildings, and one of my plans was to open an unused shop unit in a shopping mall and turn it into a mini performing arts studio with an inviting front foyer. Is there an old flea pit no one wants in your town or just an unusual space that no one knows what to do with?
It’s fair to say that children’s theatres are not a high priority in the current economic times, but park that if you will for a moment. What do you get from a space dedicated to making and sharing theatre work for kids and young people?
You get a space of infinite imagination where kids can play out their dreams or fears and explore them through the magic of live theatre – an interactive world more immediate than a screen. There would be professional productions aimed at teaching, seeking and giving ideas to young people. We are, after all, the land of Shakespeare and the West End. The performing arts are an important part of our culture and are a big money maker for the country.
Furthermore, there’s something I’ve always believed is fun: a space to show young people how a theatre works. Demystifying and enabling.
In my dreams there is a network of such kid’s theatres across the country sharing ideas, productions and involving them in many different projects. What a boost that would be for young people’s mental health. To be ‘in the room’ sharing a situation is a superb place to start a discussion especially when the play or dance or music theatre carries strong feelings. A place of inspiration.
Times may be grim for some, but it does no harm for us to dream about what we could do in the future.
Theatretrain, a nationwide provider of weekend theatre schools for young people aged 3-18, specialise in weekly classes in acting, singing and dancing. An emphasis is placed on learning valuable life skills such as confidence, empathy, courage and resilience. If you know a child who loves to dance, act and sing, or could do with a little confidence boost, why not visit www.theatretrain.co.uk to find out what our Performing Arts classes can offer your child? We have 80 locations across the UK, and our classes could give your child a head start in life