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A vibrant community youth theatre has been making waves in the heart of West Park.
Organised by The Cardigan Centre and Extended Services Inner NW hub, two groups of young people (seniors and juniors) meet weekly during term time at the West Park Centre (Spen Lane) and Hawksworth Wood Children’s Centre to explore issues and themes that are important to them and their community. The young people from both groups develop their own material and create performances which take place twice a year in the local community and across the city.
In 2009, over the Christmas period, the senior group took the theme of Alice in Wonderland and used the characters to create their own story. Delving into safety issues that they had experienced in their own lives, and inspired by Lewis Carroll’s classic text they explored themes such as ‘eat me, drink me’ (substance and drinking) and the disappearing of Alice – which developed ideas around how to meet new friends whilst staying safe.
Coordinated by Hayley Briggs, the West Park Youth Theatre develops social skills, aspiration, confidence, self-esteem and gives young people a voice through the form of live theatre. There has been a positive impact on communities in the local area as a result of the pro-active engagement of young people from around the Burley and West Park areas of Inner North West Leeds. The performances have helped to challenge perceptions of what young people are capable of and have encouraged expression, motivation and innovation through the regular creative workshops in the area .
For further information on local youth theatre groups across Leeds visit the Breeze Culture Network Hub.