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Who's Who of the July Festival...The Gap Arts Project

Posted on 23 June 2015

With just over a week until the launch of our July Festival of Theatre by and for Young People, we’re looking ahead to a jam-packed 13 days showcasing some of the best new work being created by and for young people across the UK.

The 13 day festival will see participants from the Belgrade Theatre come together to present a programme of six exciting new works produced in association with some of the UK’s top theatre practitioners including Frantic Assembly, Vamos Theatre, curious directive and Newcastle’s Gateway Studio Project.

This will be followed by a weekend of live performances in which all seven Belgrade participant groups will be invited to perform one more time. They will be joined by visiting Youth Theatre companies from across the UK including Bristol Old Vic’s Propolis Theatre, Bulwell Youth Theatre, EGO Performance Company and Highly Sprung.

Ahead of the festival, we caught up with The GAP Arts Project to find out more about their work and the show they will be presenting as part of the Festival Weekend this July.

Can you tell us a little about the history of the group and its mission?

The GAP Arts Project is an award winning, Birmingham-based charity supporting young people to meet, make and manage creative, meaningful and quality arts projects.

Who is eligible to join the group?

All young people aged 16-25

What types of project have you worked on in the past and what are you working on currently?

We are currently working on The BENCHED Project – a community drama and democracy programme based around a monodrama by Chris Cooper, and FACING THE GAP – an international project researching the use of the arts in work with young people. Alongside this is our most recent project, GAP IN THE MARKET – a two-week pop-up arts centre in the Birmingham Indoor Market from 4th-19th July, plus and our annual GRUB CRAWL – a walking, talking, dining project promoting community and conversation.

Previous projects include NEW LIGHT – a project challenging the negative perceptions of young people by capturing their photographic portraits. This project culminated in a full-scale exhibition of the portraits and of a secondary collection capturing Birmingham through young people’s eyes, a poetry anthology and a four-part choral movement – sung by a choir of young people specifically created for the event – both created using the portraits as a stimulus. This project saw The GAP Arts Project awarded West Midlands Young People’s Media Champion at the West Midlands Mixed Media Awards 2015. Other projects include The Name of Action – a film project, plus The Tempest and The Crucible – two full-scale, site-specific theatre productions.

Tell us a little more about the production/performance piece you will be presenting as part of the July Festival weekend?

We will be performing BENCHED – a play written by local playwright Chris Cooper which explores what it is to be a young person in these times including themes of exclusion and responsibility, austerity and public space. Before the performance there will be an immersive setting of the site for the play and afterwards a discussion on the content of the play.

Is this the group’s first experience of taking their work on the road? What do you hope the participants will take from their experience?

No, we have been touring BENCHED around Birmingham since January and during our FACING THE GAP project we also performed it in Beijing, China. We hope participants will engage with the play and it will provoke them to think and question themselves and our society.

Why, in your opinion, is it important to invest in the creation of work by and for young people?

Young people have a unique view of the world and society we live in and should be supported in exploring this through the arts as it allows us all to explore ourselves and our surroundings in a safe and productive way. Through investing in work by young people we gain a new interpretation of current values, we are able to think and analyse critically and we also enable young people to step up as the next leaders, producers and thinkers of society.

Can you tell us why you support drama in schools?

I Support Drama In Schools because drama allows us to explore society, what it is to be human, taboo subjects and situations we find ourselves in, discussing options and motives and therefore coming to know ourselves better. Drama gives us a different perspective of viewing things allowing us to open our mind in a way we may otherwise have been unable to and therefore broaden our ability to see and assess any situation. This is crucial for young people to be doing and learning in order for our society to move forward.

Tickets for the July Festival of Theatre by and for Young People are priced according to a ‘Pay What You Can Scheme’. All monies raised will go towards supporting the Belgrade’s work within the community. For more information about the 50th Anniversary of TiE and the year-long programme of celebration taking place at the Belgrade throughout 2015, visit www.inspiringcuriosity.co.uk

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