Theatre Royal launches inclusive youth workshops for those with disabilities

Girl in theatre workshop smiling

Youth theatre programmes like those run by Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, provide youngsters with opportunities to be creative and boost confidence and social skills. - Credit: Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds

Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds is to launch a youth theatre programme for children with physical and learning disabilities.

Youth Theatre Inclusion has been made possible thanks to funding being provided by St Edmunds Trust for year one and the GeeWizz Charitable Foundation for years two, three and four.

Theatre Royal’s Artistic Director Owen Calvert-Lyons is excited about the positive impact this new scheme will have. “The new groups will enrich the lives of children and young people using theatre and performing arts techniques designed specifically with them and their needs in mind. Youth Theatre Inclusion will support our young participants in building self-esteem, increasing confidence and developing a positive sense of who they are and what they can achieve.  

“By being able to create quality art, reflecting and celebrating their unique creativity, they can explore theatre making in an inclusive and responsive environment.”

Hazel Pidsley, chairman,said: “St Edmunds Trust’s objectives are to provide financial assistance to any charitable organisation in West Suffolk and Sudbury providing the treatment or care of sick or disabled persons, and we are delighted to support this new theatre provision in our community.”

The GeeWizz Charitable Foundation, who are providing support for the following three years, was founded by charity campaigner Gina Long MBE. The charity focuses on supporting children and young adults in Suffolk and Norfolk who suffer from life-threatening conditions, a disability or cancer.

Gina said: “This is so important in helping them feel more able to direct or manage their lives and express themselves and engage with activities and matters that affect them and GeeWizz is proud to be able to help.”

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She said that £50,000 has been pledged to Theatre Royal’s Youth Theatre Inclusion project from the £506,000 raised by the Ed Sheeran Made in Suffolk Legacy Auction.

Theatre Royal Youth Theatre Inclusion will explore a variety of theatrical mediums through non-verbal delivery. Through ongoing training Theatre Royal will develop the programme with leading theatre companies creating work with, and for, young people with disabilities.

smiling Alfie Denny

Nine year old Alfie Denny, suffering from severe deafness, is looking forward to being able to join the Theatre Royal Youth Theatre Inclusion scheme - Credit: Andrea Denny

Andrea Denny is mum to profoundly deaf nine year old Alfie Denny, who hopes to join the new Youth Theatre Inclusion group, and she said: “How wonderful for Alfie to have this chance to be introduced to the wonder of the stage, not only will this make him feel a part of something very special but to give him that extra confidence to build on his already incredible personality.” 

Youth Theatre Inclusion hopes to welcome its first participants in September of this year, Covid restrictions permitting.

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