Youngsters take centre stage in Coventry

Festival of Theatre By and For Young People at Belgrade Theatre.

Asian Youth Theatre - Belgrade Theatre Coventry - Photo Credit Jonathan Hipkiss

2015 marks the fiftieth Anniversary of the invention of Theatre in Education at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. To mark this significant anniversary, the Belgrade will play host to a new festival of theatre showcasing some of the best new work made for and by young people today from Wed 8 – Sun 19 July 2015.

The two week festival, Inspiring Curiosity: In Our Own Words, will see participants from the Belgrade Theatre come together to present a programme of six exciting new works produced in association with some of the UK’s top theatre practitioners including Frantic Assembly, Vamos Theatre, curious directive and Newcastle’s Gateway Studio Project.

The festival will culminate in a weekend of live performances in which all seven Belgrade participant groups will be invited to perform one more time. They will be joined by visiting Youth Theatre companies from across the UK including Bristol Old Vic’s Propolis Theatre, Bulwell Youth Theatre, EGO Performance Company and Highly Sprung.

Festival Producer and Belgrade Associate Director Justine Themen said: The July Festival is all about showcasing the richness and diversity of theatre made by young people in the UK today. Much of the community theatre practised across the UK today exists because of Theatre in Education and the work of those early pioneers. The legacy of TiE continues to inspire much of the Belgrade’s work within the community, encouraging a whole new generation of young people to take an active interest in the world around them through drama.

As the title suggests Inspiring Curiosity: In Our Own Words aims to give a voice to the diverse experience of young people by exploring issues which impact directly upon their lives. By working with some of the U.K’s leading drama practitioners and by welcoming visiting youth theatre groups from across Britain, we hope to celebrate the significant contribution made by young people to theatre as well as inspire curiosity in future generations of young theatre makers nationwide’.

Opening the festival programme in the Main House is a new collaboration between the Belgrade’s Black Youth Theatre and Newcastle’s Gateway Studio Project, Broken (Wednesday 8th & Friday 17th July).

A timely and urgent exploration of the schooling system and its impact on young people today, Broken is directed by Leon Phillips in collaboration with Martyn Hylton.

This will be followed by The Impossible Language of the Time (Wednesday 8th, Saturday 11th & Wednesday 15th July) – a bold and uncompromising new play by award-winning playwright Chris O’Connell developed in collaboration with the Belgrade’s Senior Youth Theatre which explores the relationship between young people and protest. Directed by Claire Proctor.

The second double-bill of performances opens with Somewhere To Belong (Thursday 9th, Saturday 11th & Monday 13th July) – a brand new collaboration between the Belgrade’s newest Theatre Group, Asian Youth Theatre and Vamos Theatre, one of the UK’s leading full mask theatre companies who have come together to create a moving and resonant piece of theatre exploring the inner jihad of an Asian youth in 21st century Britain. Directed by Reena Jaisiah, Leon Phillips and Honor Hoskins.

This will be followed by a unique and moving collaboration between the Belgrade Youth Theatre and Shine On Over 50s Group. Created in conjunction with Chris White, Associate Practitioner and Director for RSC Education, I Burn, I Pine, I Perish (Thursday 9th, Saturday 11th & Monday 13th July) combines some of Shakespeare’s best-loved poetry, with some of the performers’ own stories and features a cast of performers aged 11-85, I Burn, I Pine, I Perish is directed by Hannah Uttley, Lucy Nicholls and Chris White.

Opening the third double-bill is Ctrl Alt Delete (Friday 10th, Tuesday 14th & Thursday 16th July), a tender and at times, troubling study of memory, human relationships and the instability of personal identity as seen through the eyes of an Alzheimers’ sufferer and their family.

A play which explores the fragility of the human mind, Ctrl Alt Delete is a new work devised and performed by the Belgrade’s Canley Youth Theatre group, a weekly outreach group made up of ages 8-16 years. Ctrl Alt Delete is directed Jouvan Fucinni in collaboration with Jack Lowe from curious directive with support from Orla O’Connor and Emma Maddern.

This will be followed by a new collaboration between the Belgrade’s Senior Youth Theatre and Frantic Assembly, Sleeping Through The Alarm (Friday 10th, Tuesday 14th & Thursday 16th July).

Shining a spotlight on the decisions that determine young peoples’ futures, Sleeping Through The Alarm is a powerful study of individual freedom, choice and responsibility as seen through the eyes of young people today. Sleeping Through The Alarm is directed by Leon Phillips in collaboration with Krista Vuori from Frantic Assembly.

They will be joined by Highly Sprung – one of the U.K’s leading physical theatre companies for children and young people – who return to the Belgrade as part of the 2015 July Festival with their high-energy performance-piece Pages from Monday 13th July–Sunday 19th July

Among the visiting youth theatres appearing as part of the ‘Festival Weekend’ from Friday 17th–Sunday 19th July are EGO performance group with their new play The Intriguing Case of SPJ (Friday 17th July), an emotional but uplifting story about an abused child and his journey through the care system

A collaboration between eleven young theatre makers – Bristol Old Vic’s Propolis Theatre will visit the Belgrade Theatre on Friday 17th July with their candid and playful new production of Spill – a dynamic celebration of the age-old topic of ‘sex’ presented through a combination of music, movement, puppetry and authentic representations of real people.

Representing the Gifted and Talented element of the Gateway Studio project’s education programme, Gateway Youth Dance Company present Missled on Saturday 18th July, a modern contemporary dance piece featuring choreography created as part of the students’ recent GCSE examination in which they achieved maximum marks across the board.

Also confirmed as part of the Festival Weekend programme are Bulwell Youth Theatre, a city ‘outreach’ group for 9-14 year olds run by Nottingham Playhouse – who make their first visit to the Belgrade in 2015 with Little Red on Saturday 18th July – an inventive and energetic retelling of the much-loved fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood.

Birmingham Hippodrome in association with Open Theatre Company will be on hand to present ‘Queensbury Capers’ by Richard Hayhow on Saturday 18th July, a short, silent slapstick film produced in partnership with Queensbury Special School. Part of Hippodrome Plus – Queensbury Capers tells the story of two robbers and a mystery man plotting a big robbery using a bomb in a box – the other box contains an antique. With the boxes mixed up by two hapless students confusion reigns down and the mystery man gets more than egg on his face!

Completing the line-up are The Gap Arts Project with their new production of Benched (Sunday 19th July), a community monodrama exploring what it is to be a young person in society today.

Tickets for all events are priced according to a Pay What You Can scheme. All monies raised will go towards supporting the Belgrade’s work within the community. For more information about the 50th Anniversary of TiE and the year-long programme of celebration taking place at the Belgrade throughout 2015, visit