A “complete curveball” and a “safe haven” in Live Theatre, Newcastle

Live Youth Theatre members share experiences of lockdown in online video

It is one thing to make a film reflecting your own experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown; it is quite another to be able to make such a film, with full regard for all the restrictions in place, during said lockdown. But this is what the young members of Newcastle’s Live Theatre have done, making The Reconnection Collection, a moving, funny, and fascinating short film into reflecting the thoughts and observations of the Live Youth Theatre’s members during these unprecedented hard times.

A vital part of Live Theatre’s acclaimed work with children and young people, the Live Youth Theatre’s members and a team of freelance creative were not going to allow the physical restrictions necessitated by the pandemic stifle their creativity. Unable to meet up in person, last September over 100 young people signed up for the Autumn term and took their weekly sessions online on Zoom. The extraordinary result, The Reconnection Collection, is part of Live Theatre’s Live Wired season, and is available to be watched free online.

They were led by 10 freelance drama facilitators, including Liv Hunt, who said: “I’m super proud of the young people who worked on the project this year. It’s been a tough old year but they were still able to bring heaps of energy and creativity to the sessions.” 

Helen Green, Children and Young Peoples Lead agreed that the film was “a credit to their resilience, and their unwavering love of making theatre together.” One of the hardest things about the closure of the Live Theatre was missing the “tons of energy and noise” from hordes of young people clambering all over the building every evening. But using online technology and the talented freelance facilitators has enabled the Youth Theatre to, as the film title says, reconnect.

The project was led by Filmmaker Brett Chapman who captured and curated the content – for the film. Brett said that working on this film was “one of the highlights of the last year for me, no question.

“Seeing so much creativity from so many young people is super inspiring, especially in the midst of what has been such an uncertain time for everyone in the arts.” 

Green agrees: “These young people have created a film, which just makes you feel better.” 

Supported by grants from the Shears Foundation, the Squires Foundation, the Lucy Winskell Fund and the Hadrian Trust, the Live Youth Theatre is the largest provider of free theatre and drama programmes for young people in the North East, enabling members to develop self-confidence and create original theatre reflecting their views and opinions.

Feedback from all involved has been fabulous. Live Youth Theatre member Connor reflected that the film was “a complete curve ball to what we knew as theatre.  It allowed us to explore our emotions, opinions and current experiences about lockdown while living in the moment, displaying an incredibly intuitive mixture of theatre.

Calling the Live Youth Theatre a “safe haven”, he added the theatre stands out as one of the very few places giving young people the experience, education and the abundance of self-worth, confidence, hope, and a supportive community during the hardest of times. 

A real community with so much scope for the future, as Hunt said: “I feel like I’ve got to know them more as individuals this year despite not being in the same room together! They’re all mint and I can’t wait to see what they do next.” 

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