Jack Petchey Foundation
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Stories we are proud of

Youth theatre group uses Shakespeare to tackle off-stage drama

Intermission Youth Theatre has recently joined the Jack Petchey Achiever’s Award Programme! It has been operating since Spring 2008 and has engaged with over 5000 learners across the UK – many of whom lack opportunity and live in difficult circumstances. The company addresses issues like gang culture, crime and relationships using plays solely by William Shakespeare.

The theatre group meets in St. Saviour’s Church, a gorgeous and recently renovated church that is tucked behind Harrods in Knightsbridge. Despite the Central London setting, young people from all over the capital attend rehearsals and performances.

Intermission’s most recent production called ‘Taming Who?’ is an adaptation of ‘The Taming of the Shrew’. Apart from the odd line in iambic pentameter, the script is composed of street slang in order to contextualise the Bard’s great works. The performance is followed by a Q&A session with the actors, who have clearly gained a lot from Intermission’s work.

The youth theatre company’s first ever Achievement Award went to 20-year-old full-time actor Josh Okusanya from Greenwich. Their Jack Petchey co-ordinator Cecilia Segar said “Josh was nominated because he brings hope, happiness and laughter to all those around him. He is a hugely talented actor, a true friend, a man of strong faith and an outstanding leader.”

Josh’s Achievement Award was presented by the newly announced Patron of Intermission: Mark Rylance. Rylance is an Olivier, Tony and BAFTA Award winner and was also the first Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe.

Josh, who plays Petruchio in ‘Taming Who?’ says: “I’m so honoured and grateful to have a Jack Petchey Award, because it’s allowed me to recognise how far I’ve come in 4 years with Intermission. I joined at a time when I was not clear about my future or passion. Now I have professional representation, I’ve performed at the Royal Shakespeare Company and at The Globe and toured schools all over the UK! It’s not just a theatre group, it’s a family. Darren Raymond (Artistic Director) and the rest of the team believe in what I do and saw a version of me that, at first, I didn’t see myself.

In June 2009 Intermission joined forces with the Kensington and Chelsea Youth Offending Team (YOT). YOT introduced young people at risk of offending to the theatre group. This endeavour was so successful that Intermission has since united with other London boroughs to take young people off the streets and onto the stage.

This achievement is particularly important in light of the National Youth Theatre’s Paul Roseby’s comments regarding the value of studying drama.[1]  Whether or not they are intending on pursuing acting, Intermission has left young people feeling confident and safe; and that is worth everything.

‘Taming Who?’ will be running until 22nd November 2014. For tickets call: 02077304500

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2013/oct/24/drama-schools-waste-of-money-national-youth-theatre

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