Could you first introduce yourself for the reader?
I'm Steve Ball, Associate Director at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre where l lead on learning, participation and community engagement.
In what ways can young people get involved with Birmingham Rep?
There are all sorts of ways in which young people can get involved with The REP. Our Young REP youth theatre consists of 15 groups and has 300 members aged eight to 25. Some groups meet at The REP on Saturdays and others meet in neighbourhoods across the city on weekdays after school.
This Summer, we will be running a dozen Summer Schools with opportunities to join our Spy School for 8 to 12 year olds through to performing Shakespeare for older young people.
To find out more see our website birmingham-rep.co.uk
What projects are you working on at the moment?
We are finalising the Summer Schools l have mentioned and in the early stages of planning a European Youth Theatre Festival to take place at The REP in August 2018.
What activities are most popular for young people and why?
Too many to mention but the young people we work with enjoy performing with our youth theatre, taking part in Learning Adventures with our Education Officers and seeing world class drama on our three stages.
Could you give an example of a recent project you have run, and the impact it had?
Last year we produced the ON THE EDGE Festival/ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering 2016 which attracted over 400 delegates from 51 countries and featured a programme of 91 live performances and 56 symposium events. The festival was hosted and produced by The REP, in collaboration with nine partner venues across the City. ON THE EDGE comprised performances by 25 companies and 160 artists travelling to Birmingham from 14 countries, including the UK, Ireland, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Australia and South Korea. From 2 to 9 July 2016, 9,940 individual OTE audience members and ASSITEJ delegates were able to experience the best in theatre for young audiences from around the world.
Your projects and activities are extremely diverse and wide ranging. How do you keep on top of whatever issue you're going to tackle next?
Through careful planning and consultation ensuring that the children and young people we work with are always at the centre of what we do.
What does B-Rep's future look like?
Despite major challenges with funding [The Birmingham Rep was cut 62% by the city council last year], our future looks bright. The REP launches an average of 12 premieres a year across our three spaces, and hosting the work of the best touring theatre companies in the country. We pride ourselves in being an inclusive theatre, offering a broad range of contemporary drama from family shows to experimental ones. Our public spaces have been revolutionised by a rolling participative digital programme of work and we reflect the diversity of our city in the work we programme and the artists we work with.
As the only producing theatre in the region, we feel a responsibility to support emerging local talent. We do this by offering a year-long programme to the best emerging local artists, offering more established companies dramaturgical and technical support as well as rehearsal rooms and marketing and we commission and programme the best existing regional companies
Do you publish any online resources that young people could use?
Yes see our website https://www.birmingham-rep.co.uk/get-involved/education
Rep theatres have seen renewed interest – especially since the re-opening of the Everyman. Do you welcome the challenge?
Regional theatres across the country are enjoying a resurgence, producing new diverse work and engaging audiences and communities in innovative exciting ways. We welcome the opportunity to play our part.
- Image courtesy of WeekendNotes