On 2nd October 2015, the Jack Petchey Foundation held the Crystal Awards at City Hall, London to mark the 15th anniversary of the Jack Petchey Foundation and the milestone of having invested £100m into youth projects in London and Essex. In a special gesture to mark the occasion, £225,000 of grant awards were given on the night to 150 youth groups specially selected for their outstanding work with young people.
One of the groups that received the Crystal Award Grant was Mountview Academy Theatre Arts, one of the UK’s leading drama schools, situated in Wood Green. Mountview used their grant to fund a week-long acting course during Easter half-term for 39 local young people from Haringey. These lucky young performers spent the week developing their performance skills and working towards an end of week performance for friends and family.
By making this a free event, Mountview were able to engage with young people they wouldn’t normally have been able to reach and introduced them to professional drama training. The 39 young people were split into three groups, each working on their own projects. The 11-13 year olds spent the week working on an improvised piece, led by Saria Steyl, a professional actress. The piece looked at the subject of alienation, and explored ways in which young people can come together to help each other feel secure and happy. One student enjoyed the sessions so much, that he enrolled in the regular Saturday classes. The second group was made up of the 13- 15 year olds who also worked on an improvised piece. This group was run by Mountview graduate and actor Anthony Adjekum, who gave the young people full reign on the creative content of their piece. Anthony helped them structure their ideas into a show which explored youth crime; it was a suspenseful and energetic final piece.
The final group were aged 14- 18 and worked with Mountview graduate and theatre director Jane Moriarty. The group worked on a variety of dramatic material throughout the week and also got the chance to watch an in-house production of Shakespeare’s “Loves Labours Lost”. This was a great opportunity to engage with a classical text and gave them an insight into the next stages of professional acting.
Seventeen year old Celeste in particular benefitted from the week long course. At the time, she was planning to audition for a full-time drama course. The course enable her to polish up her acting skills for the audition, introduced her to new dramatic material and gave her the opportunity to ask countless questions about life at drama school and how best to prepare for an audition. The competition for places at drama school is extremely high and the opportunity for young people like Celeste to spend time in a drama school environment before embarking on auditions is invaluable. Celeste said “Throughout the week I was inspired by being around such hardworking staff and students. The atmosphere motivated me to believe in my talents and strive for success.”
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