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Belgrade Young Company putting Sexual Health on the city’s agenda

Posted on 29 September 2011

The Belgrade Young Company are putting issues such as teen pregnancy, homosexuality and abortion centre stage with their production of Frank Wedekind’s Spring Awakening, which will run in B2 from Fri 4 to Sat 12 Nov.

As explosive now as when it was first written in the 19th Century, this classic story of teenage angst dives headfirst into the confused and tangled mess that can be teenage life.

The story follows a group of curious teenagers who have little guidance from their parents or teachers on how to cope with the changes to their bodies and their growing sexual desires. Curiosity leads to sexual experimentation, which for these young people could prove fatal.

Due to its stark portrayal of the consequences of the repression of teen sexuality, Spring Awakening has often been banned or censored since its first performance in Germany in 1906. A musical adaptation of the play opened off Broadway in 2006 and subsequently moved to Broadway, where it garnered eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The London production of the show won four Olivier Awards.

Following on from the success of last year’s all the moves, Spring Awakening will be the second production from the Belgrade’s Young Company, which is the latest offshoot of the Belgrade’s Community & Education Company and comprises some of the theatre’s most promising young performers.

Justine Themen, Associate Director of the Community & Education Company said, “We formed the Young Company last year to try and provide opportunities for our more experienced youth theatre participants to continue to develop their skills set and provide them with an experience that takes them closer towards the performing arts as a career choice. This year, we’ve chosen to present Spring Awakening because it is rare in being a classic drama that also clearly gives a voice to young people and young performers – a drive that is at the heart of all of our Youth Theatre work. And whilst the play provides the Young Company with the challenge of exploring a classic piece of drama, it also resonates with an issue that is at the heart of contemporary Coventry, namely sexual health.”

In recent years Coventry has ranked amongst the highest cities in the West Midlands for teenage pregnancy. To address this, and other themes from the play, the Belgrade Theatre has teamed up with health and education officials in Coventry to invite people to take part in The Big Conversation directly after the matinee of Spring Awakening on Saturday 12 November.

This free event will provide young people, parents and carers with the opportunity to debate issues surrounding sexual health, in particular how to challenge Coventry’s high levels of teenage pregnancy and STDs, with sexual health experts and members of Coventry City Council.

Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member (Children and Young People) said: “A lot of great work is already going on to tackle teenage pregnancy rates in the city and the number does appear to be reducing. However we are not complacent and are committed to continuing to reduce this further. Research suggests that talking to young people before they become sexually active can help ensure that they are more likely to put off having sex and protect themselves when they do. If you think you would like to talk to your children about sex and relationships but don’t know how, then please do attend The Big Conversation to get advice and support from the experts.”

Spring Awakening contains themes that some younger people may find disturbing so it’s recommended for ages 12+.

Tickets for Spring Awakening are available now from the box office on 024 7655 3055 or online by clicking here priced £8.25 for adults and £4.75 for children. Concessions and schools prices are also available and cheaper tickets can be purchased online.

Tickets to The Big Conversation are free but booking is advised to ensure a place. To book please contact The Belgrade box office on 024 7655 3055. If you have a question for the experts please submit it before the event to Jane Craig at jane.craig@coventry.gov.uk

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