Youth Thoughts

This space is curated and edited by the young people who attend our youth theatre. It is a digital platform for their thoughts, ideas and responses to youth theatre sessions, art, politics and culture. To have a look at posts from 2011-2013, click here

Tuesday 7th April 

The session started with a monologue and this brought on extraordinary changes for me as an actress. The monologue was about a journey that someone undertook, but in my head I was the person that undertook it, so I could understand the characters motivation.

The monologue was different to all the others I’ve ever done, because it was the first one where I was completely confident using movement. I mimed putting things into a bag, and then mimed putting the bag on my back. Finally in the last line I used a traditional submissive posture, I knelt on the floor and held my hands out palms facing up.

For me this displays a great change, because it was the first time that I didn’t have ideas suggested to me, I took the matter in to my own hands and devised it myself. I am extremely proud of myself.

When it came to actually performing the piece, one of the other members of the group decided that it might not be a bad idea if lean against the windowsill. The Youth Theatre Director Matty told me afterwards that the reflection of me in the window was really good.

I think in general, members of the group were nervous about performing as individuals because we are so used to performing as a whole.

One other piece by a member of the group really stands out in my mind and was really poignant. It was done by one of the boys, Liam. In this piece he almost conveyed a God like character, which was reinforced by his position on the stairs. He was above us and hearing his voice above me really affected me. Some of the other monologues used distance to convey there meaning. This in general was incredibly disorientating.

Vanessa Smith

Wednesday 18th February
Manchester Adventure

It was a mild Wednesday evening in February when Collective Encounters Youth Theatre descended upon Fountain Street Pizza Hut in Manchester after an hour train journey from Lime Street and some very bad jokes. But despite the pizza being very good and an embarrassing drink spill, this was not the purpose of our visit to the city.

Aside from pillaging the streets with bad Mancunian accents, CE: YT went to see an exciting performance of a new play: ‘Scuttlers’ in the grand Royal Exchange Theatre. Rona Munro’s world exclusive was held ‘in the round’ and provided a detailed expression of the nineteenth century gangs in Manchester at the time of the industrial revolution.

The audience follows two rival gangs with the backdrop of a cotton mill, which is especially relevant to the royal exchange theatre, the former cotton exchange. We all thought that the play was superb and some of the techniques used to create an atmosphere we shall definitely take away to use on some of our top-secret future projects! The soundtrack to the performance was particularly interesting with live music from both the musician and the infrastructure surrounding us!

As you can imagine the Youth Theatre were all glowing with satisfaction after seeing such an insightful performance into life in 19th century Manchester (complete with better accents than our own), but we were surprised when Denise (a dear friend of the youth theatre who came on the trip) brought out David Judge, one of the stars (seen in the middle of the picture) for a quick after-show chat! This was met with great excitement and we were soon laughing and joking with the psychotic Victorian maniac with very bad teeth and discovered that he’s actually much older than he appears (but I didn’t tell you about that!)

So after David scurried away to his shift at the cotton mill we headed back to the Station via Pizza Hut very pleased with the day’s events and ready for what Matty and Tamsin have in-store for us next week.

Mark Reynolds

Saturday 31st January
Our trip to Runcorn

Collective Encounters Youth Theatre travelled to Runcorn for a day of filming which will be used in a promotional film about our group.

It was lovely to have a bigger space to work in. As a group we took part in an ensemble exercise using states of tension and we developed our skills and knowledge that we had learnt from the previous workshops. Part of the session looked at how to develop scenarios from ensemble work and create scenes. I think when watching the group at first we found this a little difficult but as the session went on we all became more confident with it. Overall, the session went really well.

I think it’s fair to say that before the state of tension workshops and this filming experience, some members were not that confident, but afterwards they have completely changed and gained so much confidence and I for one am proud of myself and the group, as we have come so far in the last few weeks of Collective Encounters.

Jess Gallagher

Tuesday 13th January
States of Tension

In our first session back to Youth Theatre after Christmas, we looked at different states of tension. Looking at the states has increased our understanding and helped us to develop our acting ability. I’m going to explain each state below and how I found trying to do them.

State 1

There is no tension what so ever, you’re not moving as if you are asleep, which of course meant that most of the group were flat-out on the floor! This state was quite easy for me to do because I like being relaxed.

State 2

Matty and Denise called this state ‘cool surfer dude’, where you’re really laid back and have ultra minimal tension. This state was okay for me because I just imagined that I’ve just woken up.

State 3

The third state that we looked at was the hardest one I think for all of the group. You’re completely neutral; I think the reason why it was so hard was because we weren’t sure what neutral was. I think, no matter what I tried to do my body always seem to be doing something but I think with practice I’ll get the hang of it.

State 4

The fourth state was where we were slightly suspicious as if we knew something wasn’t quite right but we weren’t really sure what it is. The example we were given was that people were asking the question ‘is there a bomb in the room?’ This involved us all walking and looking around the room. I moved my hands around like I was searching for something and felt that this worked well to convey this state.

 State 5

We were told to imagine that there really was a bomb in the room, and to act very alert and suspicious. It was an increase of state 4 and I thought I did well doing this one as I got the hang of it.

 State 6

The sixth state was pure melodrama, very passionate and intense. Acting where every emotion is over-the-top. This one again, was quite easy for me to do.

 State 7

The final state was where you are so tense and your emotions are so big that you just can’t move. I found this one really hard to do.

Vanessa Smith

23rd June 2014
My final blog

I can’t believe I am writing this and saying I’m leaving Collective Encounters because I’ve been there for so many years and it’s been such a wonderful time working with this amazing theatre company. I know I will always remember and associate CE with happy memories and great experiences. My one stand out moment was performing with a group of people from Scotland in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival alongside the youth theatre and I will always remember performing there with a happy heart. I will always remember everyone from CE and tell everyone I meet about my experiences with them and how fantastic this wonderful company was to me and is to everyone who joins it.

I have loved working with every member of the YT and the staff members who have included Fiona, Anna, Matty, Mandy, Abi and Sarah. Everyone there has helped me to grow up into an adult who has loads of life experience and confidence to help me with my future career and life. I would just like to thank everyone who has helped me change from a young boy to a mature (and at times moaning) adult.

I shall start to finish up this blog without tears and look to the future always remembering the wonderful experiences and performance opportunities I have gained and achieved over my many years at Collective Encounters YT.  I also regard every member and staff member at CE as my extended family who I always know will be there for me if I ever need them, which makes me happy knowing that. I have gained life long friends thanks to this company and I just have praise for everything I’ve been involved in over the years as a YT member.

I’ve seen many people come and go and I have always stated that I will always be a member of the youth theatre until I had to be forced out. Now I feel like it is my time to go and see what the world has to offer me and to help me gain more experiences and opportunities to help my life and career prosper.

A massive thank you to everyone who has been part of my CE journey over the many many years I’ve been a member and a happy not sad farewell from me. I will miss you all but I always will be around and hopefully try and see all the future productions I may be invited along to. Good luck to everyone involved in the summer production and future projects you all might be involved in. I hope you all have a great time at Collective Encounters and gain loads of skills like I have and enjoy every second of it because its just a FANTASTIC place to go and be a member.

Adam Doran

8th April 2014
Arts Professional Workshop 

This week was our last workshop of the bulk we have been doing over the past three months. This workshop was all about setting up a theatre company and it was run by the lovely Annette and Fiona. This workshop was very beneficial to me in particular as I am in a theatre company that are just starting up as part of my uni degree. It was good to learn what was priority in putting together a performance from scratch and what you could only really know when you where nearing the end of the project. We learned about who we could contact to be sponsors of a company and who our audience would be depending on the themes of the performance. We looked into the details of flyers for theatre companies and performances and pointed out the strong and weak parts of them. One thing I would definitely take back to my theatre company would be a gantt chart which helps with organising goals and objectives week by week. Over all this was a valuable workshop for someone like myself who loves acting but is also interested in the business side of it which will be essential to my future aspirations.

Sarah Doyle

4th February 2014
Frantic Assembly Workshop 

Collective Encounters had the wonderful experience of receiving a masterclass by two practitioners from Frantic Assembly. The group is well known for their amazing performances in physical theatre. Personally, I had looked into their devised pool (no water) and was extremely looking forward to learning more, furthermore from speaking to other members of CE. I know we were all excited to learn about more Frantic Assembly and about physical theatre as a whole.

We began with exercises and activities that became a warm up. However, over halfway into the session we began to learn of how and actor or performer can tell stories, portray emotions through movement and also the involvement of music. Overall, it was an extremely enjoyable session that taught me the importance of pace, rhythm and simplicity of physical theatre. The rest of CE echoed the enjoyment.

Liam Smaje

14th January 2014
Remy Bertrand Improvisation Workshop

Collective Encounters Youth Theatre attended an improvisation workshop that was delivered by a gentleman called Remy Bertrand. He said ‘Jesus’ to us if we had our arms closed to remind us to remain in neutral position. He told us a lot about the gentleman called Keith Johnstone who created many of the rules and wrote several books about improvisation.

We began playing a few games that helped to understand rules about improvisation; prepare for the unexpected and being aware with what happens around you. The whole cohort of the CE:YT gang enjoyed this workshop. It was very fun.

Jess Gallagher