What goes on at London Bubble Theatre?

Natalie Clarke talks to Voice about the work undertaken at London Bubble Theatre, who were recently nominated for a Creative Choices award by Creative & Cultural Skills for their commitment to skill development.

What goes on at London Bubble Theatre?

Could you first introduce yourself for the reader?

My Name is Natalie Clarke and I am the Project Coordinator for the Bubble Young Theatre Makers programme at London Bubble Theatre Company. 

What happens at your organisation?

London Bubble is a community theatre company who try to encourage everyone to be creative no matter what their age, background, ability or experience. We have a creative elder’s programme that works with older people, intergenerational projects, speech bubbles which is our programme for primary schools to help develop communication, weekly theatre classes for children, adults and young people and an intensive 12 -week programme for 18 -24year olds. We also run loads of activities and creative projects in schools, with local councils, with charities and corporate settings. It’s always busy at Bubble. 

What do you offer to young people?

We run a 12-week programme for 18 – 24-year olds to make theatre, run weekly youth theatre classes for 12 – 16-year olds, run drama classes for 6-8 and 9-11-year olds, and coordinate a nationwide programme for primary schools called Speech Bubbles focussed on creativity, confidence and communication. 

We also run various creative projects in schools, colleges, charity spaces, and for youth focussed organisations. We take on commission work (which allows us the opportunity to employ BYTM associates as paid freelance staff and performers). 

We always encourage the young people we work with to see Bubble as theirs (as much as ours), they come in and make tea and snacks, borrow rehearsal space, can pop in to use computers or for interview and job-hunting help, or best of all just pop by to have a chat. We offer a space where our young people can feel safe and always listened to. 

What activities are most popular for young people and why?

Our Bubble Young Theatre Makers programme is always popular as it is a great chance for participants to develop new skills, build confidence, make a brand-new piece of theatre, tour to multiple venues, make new friends and connect with all the staff at Bubble during their 12 weeks but also well after that. We have employed many of the young people who have taken part in the BYTM programme to work as facilitators, workshop assistants and performers in other commissioned projects, so the young people have the opportunity to become freelance members of Bubble staff. 

Could you give an example of a recent project you have run, and the impact it had?

We run the Bubble Young Theatre Makers programme twice a year and many of our “associates” (those who have gone through the programme) have gone on to secure paid work, drama school places, showcased a boost in the confidence and independence, and some have continued to work with us on commissioned projects and as members of freelance staff. 

Just in our last cohort of young theatre makers we have seen four go on to audition for theatre school places, two perform in brand new theatre shows, two secure new jobs or traineeships, one volunteer with a theatre and six come back to work on other projects with us. 

Why do you offer apprenticeships?

After taking part in the Young Theatre Makers programme we offer all those that completed the course to take part in a 4-5 week work placement, working alongside one of our arts facilitators on another project at Bubble. We feel this is a great way for the young people to see themselves develop from performer to facilitator and see another side to the creative industries. They get the opportunity to understand more about the different projects run at London Bubble, and encourage the young people to keep in contact with us for further opportunities and support. 

What initiatives do you run that helped you get nominated for the award?

We were nominated for our Bubble Young Theatre Makers (BYTM) programme, but also for the commissioned work we run for different organisations and schools. These commissions give paid employment opportunities to BYTM associates and works with young people from a variety of backgrounds on stories that they think need to be told. 

Is there anything you particularly want to promote to young people at the moment? 

Not right now but we will publish the next recruitment for BYTM soon.

Where can people find out more about the work you do?

Visit the website at www.londonbubble.org.uk or email Natalie@londonbubble.org.uk 

Header Image Credit: Bubble Theatre warm up

Author

Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe..

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