Hi there, can you introduce yourself to the reader?
We are Anthos Arts, a non-profit applied theatre organisation which works with children and young people throughout Exeter and Devon. We are primarily a company of two, but have a handful of volunteers who help support us, and are graduates of the University of Exeter's Drama Department.
Can you tell us a bit about what goes on at the Anthos Arts?
We provide a safe, supportive space for young performers to grow and develop as artists.
We carry out projects for a variety of different ages with different goals, but always seek to develop valuable arts and performance skills. With our younger participants, we focus on growth through play; building confidence, communication, teamwork and performance skills through a wide range of theatre games and activities. Our older participants receive professional actor and performance training, as well as learning how a professional producing theatre company operates and creates work. The Anthos Young Company (or AYC) functions operates as a youth theatre group, with the participants for each term making up the company and producing a show for the public, in order to support this goal.
Throughout our work is the Arts Award, which we weave into the different activities and opportunities we offer. We like for our participants to be able to engage themselves with each project and know that their work is contributing to an award at the end.
The short answer - a lot of fun!
Great! Tell us a bit more about your different projects?
We offer young people the chance to get creative and make work in a safe and supportive environment. Young people are given the chance to both learn and try new things through each of our projects, whether this be by exploring different topics or art forms. The community we create gives young people a place where they can meet and talk to like- minded individuals and learn from each other’s experiences and have fun.
We dabble in different art forms so that participants in both our older and young groups can experiment with different performance styles. This includes things such as puppetry, media and sound, arts and craft and dance (to name a few) as well as acting.
What has been your most popular project with young people?
Our most popular activities are our termly youth groups. We like to think this is because they are always different and exciting. Each term we try something new and explore it in different ways. The groups will always create a performance for the end of each term. For the younger group, this means adapting a new story into a show, while for the older group it might mean staging a play or either devising or writing something entirely new!
With each new project, we like to experiment with different art forms, so that everyone has the change to learn new skills and find what works best for the current performance.
Can you tell us a bit about how you incorporate technology into the work that you do?
Each of our projects is different and with every new one we look at how/what we can incorporate and where. Our young artists’ work often features a variety of sound - as we have a lot of participants who are familiar and keen on the idea. Other times we have looked at projection, how this can be incorporated into shadow puppetry, and how to play with traditional theatre technology in order to create striking stage pictures.
What is one of your favourite projects you've worked on recently and why?
Our most recent project was called ‘H.’ It was a show created and produced by the AYC. The company started in September 2017 with Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ and set out to adapt it to suit a modern audience. We spent a few rehearsals workshopping different ideas and styles.
Eventually, the company decided that they wanted to focus on Hamlet’s mental state and explore the topic of mental health awareness - which was a huge decision for them to make. As rehearsals progressed the cast decided that they wanted to feature sections of the original text, mixed with modern scenes they would devise and include physical scenes to reflect different conflicting aspects of Hamlet’s- or ‘H’ as he was then called-inner turmoil.
When the show was finished; it featured a variety of art styles and followed the story of H, who was experiencing first-hand the struggles of mental health after the loss of his father. The AYC cast performed the show at the Cygnet theatre, Exeter in December. The show was picked up for the ‘From Devon with Love’ festival and was performed again in January 2018 at the Bikeshed theatre. Our AYC cast last term were working towards their Bronze awards.
Meanwhile our younger group, the Chameleon Group-as we call them- created a performance of Peter Pan featuring acting, dance, craft and puppetry. Many of our chameleons were working towards their Explore awards.
Do you offer Arts Award projects for people to get involved with?
Yes, we offer the Arts Award levels from Discover to Silver at present and are looking into training for the Gold award. Young people can get involved in the award on any of our youth groups an additional option. In doing so we support them throughout the term in working towards achieving it. Our younger group offers levels Discover and Explore, while our older
group offers Discover, Explore, Bronze and Silver.
In what other ways do you support young people doing their Arts Award?
We are an Arts Award supporter. We offer advice and guidance for young people undertaking the award. This might be helping them understand the requirements for their award or recommending arts events that they can get involved with and use as part of writing for the award. We offer work experience, running our youth groups and arts events, to those who are undertaking higher levels of the award so that they can use the experience in meeting the different criteria.
What online resources do you have for young people doing their Arts Award?
While we don’t necessarily publish resources online, we keep track of our participant’s arts award adventure with a weekly blog. The blog details different games and activities we play so that those participants have something to support them when writing reflectively, and also so others can see what we do and adapt it into their own practice-should they wish.
Tell us how young people can get involved in Anthos Arts
We're starting up a brand new Anthos Young Company project in February where young people will have a chance to work towards their Explore and Bronze award. The project will be devising a new performance based upon Arthur Conan-Doyle’s ‘Sherlock Holmes.’ We will explore the character and story across the term and create the performance using acting, puppetry and physical theatre.
The company will be performing the show at the end of March. Rehearsals are Thursday nights each week from 6-8pm in Exeter. Please contact Jake for more information ([email protected]) or visit the website www.anthosarts.com.
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