Giving young people a voice through theatre

Published: 13 Nov 2014

Giving young people a voice through theatre

Joanne Skapinker is a theatre practitioner, writer and education consultant from North London. Leading theatre workshops for young people and educators across London and the UK, she specialises in using theatre to promote social inclusion and create communities. She was awarded a Winston Churchill Fellowship to travel to New York and Colorado for 10 weeks, to research engaging young people with social issues through theatre-making.

Joanne worked with teenagers in Tottenham at Haringey Shed Inclusive Theatre Company during and after the London riots which began in the area in 2011. Following the riots, the Tottenham Community Panel highlighted the need for projects which enable young people to be heard and to take on leadership roles to strengthen positive connections with local communities. The aim of her Fellowship was to explore processes of creating new works of theatre which provide these opportunities for young people.

During her Fellowship, Joanne spent time with directors and young people from over 20 theatre education departments and youth programmes in New York City, from Broadway theatres to Brooklyn youth groups.  Highlights included an intergenerational playwriting project at New York Theatre Workshop, a feminist monologue workshop at women’s ensemble Girl Be Heard, and a performance by the young people of EPIC Theatre Ensemble about the events of Ferguson this summer.

Joanne said, “Successful work happens when young people are given opportunities to talk about issues which affect them by connecting to other people – whether they are politicians, peers or older citizens from the neighbourhood. When theatres regard young people as artists, and offer them the same resources accorded to professionals, young people can then turn these conversations into engaging and beautiful writing.”

Now back in the UK, Joanne intends to foster links between groups of young people in NYC and London, disseminate what she has learnt through training workshops, and create projects focusing on new writing for theatre by young people. A report on her research will be published this winter.

Contact Joanne: [email protected]

Notes to Editors

The National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS) is jointly partnering with us to support the Young People category (2015-2017). They are the leading representative body for voluntary and community youth organisations working with or on behalf of young people in England. NCVYS supports a diverse network of members, including regional and local networks.