Senior Youth Theatre member Cameron reflects on his group's final performance and what he has learned from the project

Following last week’s performance to an invited audience of family and friends, Senior Youth Theatre member Cameron reflects on his experiences of being a digital theatre pioneer as part of our Telling Stories on (the Small) Screen project, and looks forward to what the future might hold.

Seeing everything coming together in our final performance was definitely my favourite part of the Telling Stories on (the Small) Screen project. It’s been amazing to be part of something so new and different as theatres move into the digital world, and I think the success of shows like ours shows that, despite all the challenges the industry is facing, the arts really cannot be stopped.

Going on this journey has been a real emotional rollercoaster for me, and I’ve found it both exciting and draining. Most of the way through the lead-up to our final performance, I felt confident that we’d do a good job. I’d done everything I could to prepare myself by attending all of the rehearsals and following up on anything I needed to.

Nevertheless, immediately before we were due to perform, I found myself starting to feel nervous, and for a moment my anxiety overwhelmed me. No matter how much you prepare, with any live performance, there’s always a chance that things could go wrong or not according to plan.

However, the nerves soon subsided when I reminded myself that if anything were to happen, the rest of the group and the leaders would have my back. That’s the power of working together to achieve something collectively.

When it came to it, I found performing in front of an audience to be an extremely rewarding experience. Sharing something that we had worked so hard on gave me a real sense of achievement.

Presenting the work through Zoom felt completely different to performing in person. Inevitably, we came up against a few technical difficulties, including WiFi/connection issues and mics and cameras turning off, but we were able to work around these with some clever, on-the-spot improvisation.

For my own part, I found performing through Zoom to be even more inclusive and personal than performing in front of an audience in-person, and I can really see this taking off as a new way of creating and sharing performances in the future.

There are lots of other advantages too: with digital, you have the flexibility of being able to watch a show in different locations, even from the comfort of your own home, and I think that a lot of people – both young people and adults – would really respond positively to opportunities to perform or watch shows in this way. Covid-19 created an unexpected situation that no one was prepared for, but I think the fact that arts organisations are now exploring digital platforms is a positive outcome of the lockdown, and is something that should continue to be embraced.

After the show, I felt a mixture of pride at what I had achieved and sadness at the fact that the project had come to an end. Rehearsing the show and writing these blogs has become a really important part of my life over the last few weeks, so I feel a great sorrow about closing this chapter of my life. That being said, I am also very excited about continuing to work with the Belgrade and see where the next chapeter will lead us.

Through being part of this project, I have learned a lot about the importance of teamwork, as well as developing skills in creating monologues and following cues, in order to ensure that performances run smoothly. Interacting with other members of the group became easier over time, to the point where I could almost orget that we had started out as strangers. The more you work together and learn to communicate through digital plaforms, the more natural the process starts to feel, and the more confident you become.

I’ve also learned that preparation is really important. Working remotely via Zoom meant that all of us were solely responsible for ensuring that we had our own props nearby, that our devices were fully charged and that our visual and audio connections were working.

I think the way the Belgrade youth leaders have managed this project has been fantastic, and I hope that the work we have done together will pave the way for lots more projects like this in future.