Senior Youth Theatre member Cameron introduces our Telling Stories on (the Small) Screen project

In the last couple of weeks, we’ve been excited to launch a brand new initiative with our Belgrade Youth participants in direct response to their feedback to us.

Bringing together young people from our various youth theatre groups, Telling Stories on (the Small) Screen is a nine-week project exploring Zoom as a platform for creating new work. Up to 20 participants, divided into two groups, will have the opportunity to learn about acting, writing and directing for the small screen, while taking a step into the unknown with us and discovering ways of working together online.

The workshops will build towards the creation of an original piece of work, which we will aim to share with the public in mid-July, just before the school-term ends.

Starting this week, Senior Youth member Cameron will be writing a series of weekly blogs about his experiences of the project. Check out his first post below!

 

I have always seen the Belgrade as the elite of performing arts in Coventry and I joined the Senior Youth Theatre because I wanted desperately to have the opportunity develop my skills and become a better actor.

I had not long joined the Senior Youth Theatre when the lockdown happened, so I hadn’t yet had chance to take part in many of the usual sessions before everything changed.

However, I did enjoy the sessions that I was able to participate in. I love the diversity and professionalism of the Belgrade; it has become a great place for me to express myself and grow as a person. I also enjoyed taking part in masterclasses with visiting artists and companies. I really like how those professional artists have been prepared to take the time to share their skills with us as young people, and have been open and generous with us, rather than seeing themselves as superior or just trying to promote their own work.

There are a few other Senior Youth members in Telling Stories on (the Small) Screen Group A, but because we are split into two groups for the project, I’m not sure if any of them are in Group B.

I do miss the people from my usual group and can’t wait to see them again when lockdown is over, but I do also really enjoy making new friends from lots of different backgrounds, and it’s been really interesting learning about other people’s lifestyles, hopes and dreams.

There are advantages, too; because of my anxiety, I often find it difficult to have conversations with big groups of people together. Since the Zoom group is quite small, it’s easier for me to be myself as an individual, and not to feel too anxious as just one of many people taking part, so the new format has worked really well for me in that regard.

At the moment we’re all still learning together so the structure of each session may change, but so far we’ve been starting with a general conversation about how our week has been and how we are all coping during lockdown. This works as a simple icebreaker to get everyone feeling sociable and ready to enjoy the session ahead.

After that, we usually start some form of practical work or brainstorming ideas. The sessions usually end with us reflecting on what we’ve done and talking about what we’d like to work on next time. I hope that as the weeks go on we are able to spend more time on the practical tasks, but I also appreciate that it is vital that everyone feels comfortable to make sure the sessions run smoothly.

I have found that using Zoom has offered a unique perspective on creating new work. It’s really interesting to be looking at everyone inside a tiny 2×4 box – it gives the impression of a 2D person, of someone who does not actually exist. This makes me curious about what it would be like to meet those people in real life and find out how different they might be from how they seem online.

So far, I’ve been experimenting with using virtual backgrounds and making routines within Zoom. However, I think if we want to get the most out of this situation, we must start to think outside of our individual 2×4 boxes and think about what we can achieve together as one.

I have definitely found lockdown to be interesting. It’s definitely a strange time and personally, I’m incredibly grateful for anything that I can find to keep me busy. Being part of this project has given me something to do and people to talk to, and if it was not for this project, I am certain I would have had problems with my mental health and motivation.

I feel overjoyed to be a part of this experience and cannot wait until I see everyone again!