The Customs House Youth Theatre celebrates 10 years of success in South Shields

A drama group which has worked with hundreds of young aspiring actors across South Tyneside is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Thursday, 7th February 2019, 05:00 am
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 17:11 pm
Fiona Martin with members of The Customs House Youth Theatre in rehearsals in 2016.

The Customs House Youth Theatre is marking the milestone occasion as the South Shields theatre itself celebrates its 25th anniversary year.

Formed in 2009, the group was initially funded by South Tyneside Council, and now has both junior and senior sections established to work with young people aged between 10 and 21.

The seniors perform in Connections 2016.

In September 2017, it launched an after-school project at Jarrow School, giving pupils the chance to develop their theatre and performance skills, which has been funded for three years by Hays Travel Foundation.

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Fiona Martin, deputy director – Learning and Participation at The Customs House, said: “During the last 10 years we’ve worked with hundreds of young aspiring actors from across South Tyneside and beyond.

“It is a really amazing milestone to be celebrating our tenth year as a youth theatre, and it has been a privilege to have worked with so many young people during this time.

“We have been so well supported by parents and friends, as well as our generous funders, and there have been so many memorable performances by the youth theatre, both at our home venue and at the National Theatre and Northern Stage.”

The juniors perform in Go Dark. Picture by David Wilkinson.

The seniors have taken part in the National Theatre’s prestigious youth theatre festival, Connections, since 2011, they were chosen from 200 groups to perform Cloudbusting by Helen Blakeman at the National Theatre.

They have continued to stage a new play each year through Connections, working with scripts from nationally-acclaimed writers, such as Jackie Kay, Jamie Brittain and Robin French.

This year, they will be performing How to Explode by Alex Oates, at The Customs House on Wednesday, April 24, and Thursday, April 25, at 7.30pm.

The juniors have staged new plays that have been written for them by local writers Neil Armstrong, Gary Kitching, John Hickman, Rachael Walsh and E20’s Laura Turner.

The seniors perform in Connections 2016. Picture by Darren OKane.

This year, their show is BITE ME by Reece Connolly, the first Young Writer in Residence at The Customs House as part of the Takeover Festival last year.

It will be performed on Monday, April 29, at 7.30pm.

Former members of The Customs House Youth Theatre are invited to a reception after the performance of How to Explode on Thursday, April 25, in The Green Room at The Customs House. RSVP to fiona@customshouse.co.uk.

The seniors perform in Connections 2018. Picture by Scott Akoz.