`

Aspiring young actors get ready to hit the stage in South Shields

Members of the Customs House Youth Theatre, with Toni McElhatton, front left, and Fiona Martin, front right.
Members of the Customs House Youth Theatre, with Toni McElhatton, front left, and Fiona Martin, front right.

Young aspiring actors at a South Tyneside youth theatre are getting ready for their next shows.

The Customs House Youth Theatre’s two sections are staging plays in the venue’s main theatre in March.

We’re all hard at work rehearsing, so it would be hard for people to join us at the moment. However, we’ll be open for new members once we come back after Easter.

Fiona Martin

The seniors, led by Fiona Martin, are for young people aged between 15 and 21.

The group has been part of the National Theatre Connections Festival since 2011 and has previously performed at Northern Stage and The National Theatre as well as its home venue.

This year members will be performing Jackie Kay’s Take Away as part of the Connections Festival’s 21st birthday celebrations.

The play will be performed at the Customs House on Sunday, March 6 and Monday, March 7. It will then be performed by the group at Northern Stage.

Meanwhile, the Youth Theatre’s junior section has commissioned a local writer, John Hickman, to write a play for the group.

John’s play, Go Dark, will be performed on Monday, March 21 at the Customs House.

Toni McElhatton, who leads the juniors, said: “They are really excited to perform a brand new piece of theatre, which has been made just for them.

“They’re working hard in rehearsals, and I’m sure it’ll be a great night.”

The junior section is for young people aged between 10 and 15.

Fiona said: “We’re all hard at work rehearsing, so it would be hard for people to join us at the moment. However, we’ll be open for new members once we come back after Easter.

“Capacity for each group is 20 and we have room for a few more members in each section.”

As well as performing or learning about other theatre skills, youth theatre members also get the opportunity to complete an Arts Award at Explore, bronze, silver or gold levels.

Arts Award is a national awards scheme that encourages and inspires young people to grow their arts and leadership talents.

Youth theatre members also go to see local shows and take part in workshops with theatre companies at the Customs House.

Both sections meet on Fridays between 4.30pm and 6.30pm during term time at the Customs House. Each session costs £3.50.

Anyone interested in joining should call Fiona on 0191 427 8188 or email her at Fiona@customshouse.co.uk