Parents, teachers and youth workers have come together to launch a new charity aimed at giving children access to the performing arts, regardless of their means or abilities.
Jersey Youth Performing Arts (‘JYPA’), is open to young enthusiastic islanders between the ages of nine and 18 who want to take to the stage or help behind the scenes.
It was set up by Samantha Gleave and Rhona Richards following the success of the Jersey Amateur Dramatic Club’s (JADC) production of ‘Bugsy Malone’ last year. The play saw a cast of over 40 young performers take to the stage at the Arts Centre in the club’s first ever production solely for young people.
“JYPA is the brain child of some of the team involved in ‘Bugsy Malone,’” Rhona explained. “The show was very successful, and we the cast of 47 who said they wanted to do more theatre work and more productions. Performing art schools come at a cost and we also realised some people couldn’t afford them but were very talented and deserved to show that talent.”
While JYPA will not offer training and will therefore not be competing with local schools, the charity will provide “a space for young people to have some experience” in performing arts through monthly workshops with independent industry professionals. With a £10 annual membership, it aims to be accessible to a wide variety of children.
Video: The charity recently held a voice workshop with Damien Cayro.
In addition to the workshops, the charity will have two productions a year who will only be open to members and has already announced a big show for October 2020: Grease.
JYPA also hopes to provide young performers with a safe space where they can be themselves. “Quite often, particularly for the boys, they get teased or bullied because they are involved in performing arts. It’s great for them to have a room of people who are all interested in the same thing. They all have different backgrounds and experiences, but they all blend together.”
Sponsored by Ogier, the charity is run by a group of volunteers who include teachers, people who have been involved in youth work and parents. “We also have a special education needs teacher,” Rhona said.
“In the future we would like to be able to expand so that we can have children of all abilities. The more we can build on the charity, the more audience we have, the more we will be able to do.”
In the future JYPA hopes to forge links with adult schools so that it can push its young performers towards the local adult clubs. “It’s the new generation,” Rhona said.
The charity would also like to fund placed in local performing schools for its most talented performers who wouldn’t be able to afford them otherwise.
For now, JYPA is focusing on its first show, School Daze, a cabaret style show featuring music, poems and sketches loosely based on the theme of school. It will be auditioning budding performers next Sunday between 14:00 and 17:00 at Maufant Youth Centre.
To make the atmosphere as relaxed as possible, the auditions will take the form of a workshop with a group warm-up followed by some singing and dancing.
“It is open to anyone, you don’t need experience. We are looking for enthusiastic people who want to be involved and are interested in being on stage or backstage. If they sing that’s a bonus!
“We are creating an ensemble of people who can work together and socialise together.”
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