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Theatre in the Quarter launches new summer youth groups at St Mary's Centre

Two age groups will get the chance to create a play in a week

A city theatre company is launching a new era for St Mary’s Centre in Chester by opening the doors to young people this summer.

Theatre in the Quarter has recently been awarded the role as cultural programming agents for the building by Cheshire West and Chester Council in the quest to create an exciting cultural hub for music, theatre and visual art.

As part of this launch, the company is running theatre programmes for young people in order to start the ball rolling.

Young people up to 13-years-old and teenagers from 13 years upwards will have the opportunity to Create A Play In A Week at the centre, working alongside directors and musical directors.

Young people enjoying devising work with Theatre in the Quarter in Chester

Theatre in the Quarter artistic director Matt Baker said: “This is just one of the many new activities which our company and many of the other city organisations will be offering in order to make St Mary’s a vibrant creation space for the city.

“This is especially exciting as this activity will complement and feed into the new theatre which is due to open next year.”

Matt will be working alongside other artists and the young people in creating new songs and theatre in the school holidays.

He added: “We have a ten year history of creating inventive and challenging new plays with people of all ages, and the participants have such a ball in the process, learning new skills and making life-long friends. What makes this offer so special is that this marks the start of a new era in this wonderfully inspiring place.”

The summer schools follow on from four productions created and performed by Theatre in the Quarter’s regular youth theatre groups this year - Jigsaw for under 13-year-olds, Quartz for teenagers and the newly formed Rewind for young people in Blacon.

Company manager Julie Elston said: “The young people have such a buzz working in our special way, where they actually perform their own devised work. They are always asking for more opportunities and so we thought we would open this up to anyone out there in Chester who wants to give it a try and have an amazing week.”

A new user group has just been launched for St Mary’s Centre, whose main aim is to represent many arts organisations in the borough who would like to generate activity there, and create seasons of events.

The group have begun work planning a Christmas festival which will involve a whole range concerts, children’s shows, theatre, cabaret and other activities throughout Chester’s festive season.

But its first priority is to create a new brand and name for the centre which will put it on the map as a key player in the city’s emerging new cultural offer, and to whet the appetite by creating an offer in the summer.

Olivia McNee, 17, was elected as one of the young person’s representatives of the group.

Olivia said: “I am very interested in Theatre in the Quarter’s vision for St Mary’s Centre and think that it will play an important role in Chester’s cultural scene.

“I know the space very well from rehearsing to performing in many productions. I would really enjoy being involved from the very start and being involved with all the new ideas put forward for the arts centre, especially as there hasn’t been one in Chester for a while.”

The summer schools will take place in the daytime from Monday to Friday with a public performance on the Friday afternoon.

Quartz Youth Theatre director Steph Green said: “This is the perfect chance for young people to try theatre, even for the first time. They will be amazed at what they can achieve in just five days!”

Teenagers over 13 can sign up for the week beginning Monday, July 27 and under 13s can sign up for the week beginning Monday, August 3. The summer schools are open to all, and there are still places. For more information contact Julie at Julieelston09@aol.com.

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