£9K for youth theatre bursaries

Mar 23 2015 | By More

Strange Town stages acting for all

A new grant of over £9,000 of lottery cash from Awards for All will allow Leith-based youth theatre company Strange Town to offer extra bursaries for its drama projects.

The company has also benefited from a £1,000 grant from the Guthrie Association and Leith Decides through the Leith Neighbourhood Partnership.

Bring me the head of Johnny Murdock. Paul Johnston www.coppermango.com

Bring me the head of Johnny Murdock. Photo: Paul Johnston

The company provides drama projects for children and young people, from ages 5 to 25, in Leith and in schools across Edinburgh. According to the company while participation costs are kept as low as possible, some young people are still not able to participate because they simply can’t afford it.

The news comes at a time when the theatre industry is beginning to question whether acting has become the preserve of the already-rich because of the cost of starting out.

Strange Town Director Steve Small told Æ: “Strange Town believes that the arts should be available to everyone.

“The funding for the bursaries isn’t enough to give us an infrastructure. But it will allow us to offer more bursaries and extend the range of these bursaries so that we can now offer not just a 30% bursary but also some 60% bursaries and a limited number of free places.”

Strange Town runs after school clubs in schools around Edinburgh, together with a youth theatre for 8-18 year-olds and a young company for 18- 25 year-olds from Out of the Blue. It also has a young actors agency.

It aims to create work of the highest quality that is “daring, exciting and entertaining”, working with a wide range of artists – actors, designers, directors, writers and musicians – to explore creative possibilities and offer links to the profession for young people, should this be the route they want to follow.

Showcase performance

An example of the company’s strengths comes with the recent news that the young company’s production of All I Want for Christmas is the Head of Johnny Murdock was shortlisted for the Chrysalis award and will get a showcase performance this week at the Netherbow Theatre.

Written by Sam Siggs, one of the Traverse 50 and a mentored playwright through the Playwrights Studio, the play tells of teenager Amy Benson living in a high rise on a rundown Scottish housing estate who has not had an easy life so far. Her pal Scooby (called Scooby because he doesn’t have a Scooby about much really) does his best to make her smile, but it’s hard when you’ve got a stepdad like Johnny Murdock.

According to Strange Town, the script: “explodes any preconceptions surrounding what some people might expect from a youth theatre play, the writing is punchy, evocative, sometimes shocking, and the themes are dark but delivered with black humour.

“On a practically bare stage, the tight ensemble of 8 dressed in sharp black suits, race through their tale with rapid fire delivery, nodding and winking to the Tarantino film genre throughout, including a blaxploitation Santa and a full scale bloody shootout. This is definitely not a cosy family show.”

Details of Strange Town projects are on their website: http://www.strangetown.org.uk/


All I Want for Christmas is the Head of Johnny Murdock
Netherbow Theatre: Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43-45 High Street, EH1 1SR
Wednesday 25 March: 7.30pm.
Tickets from: www.tracscotland.org


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