Young actors take to the stage at Bristol Old Vic with The Prince's Trust Truth about Youth


A group of 14 unemployed young people on a Truth about Youth Performing Arts course performed in a special, one-off matinee show at Bristol Old Vic on Friday 19th June.


The group worked with a team of professionals from Bristol Old Vic to create a performance called Rhapsody for Youth over a period of three weeks. The show examines our relationship with music, following the fortunes of the separate individuals that used to make up a band and their quest to recapture the bond that brought them together in the first place.


Through performing and rehearsing at Bristol Old Vic, the young people were following in the footsteps of the likes of Brian Blessed, Olivia Colman, Daniel Day-Lewis and Pete Postlethwaite, all of whom are alumni of the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and had far more than three weeks to hone their craft!


The ‘Experience Performing Arts’ Truth about Youth course was funded by The Co-operative Foundation and delivered in partnership with youth charity The Prince’s Trust. The course aims to help local unemployed young people gain the skills and confidence they need to find work.


For the young people, the course has really helped them to overcome their own personal barriers and help them move forward with their lives. Aspiring actor Noah Nicholas, 16, is transgender and now identifies as a male. After dropping out of college, Noah came to The Prince’s Trust with a background of being bullied at school, self-harm, anxiety and feeling unable to talk to others. During the course, Noah was able to perform on-stage and played a key role in the performance.


Noah said: “This course has really helped to improve my confidence and my ability to talk to people even further.  I was anxious about it at first, but now I find it fun. Before The Prince’s Trust, I definitely wouldn’t have had the confidence to perform in front of people. Now, I talk to the rest of the group and the theatre directors about the tasks and my social skills and ability to talk to people is so much better.”


During the course, the young people interacted with members of the Malcolm X Elders, an over 55s group based in St Paul’s with a largely African-Caribbean membership. The meeting was facilitated by Shelagh Hetreed of local charity LinkAge, and it included reggae dancing, singing and the sharing of Caribbean cuisine. Shelagh said: “We are always excited by the opportunity to bring the generations together and to hopefully gently challenge attitudes in the process.”


The Truth about Youth project is now in its fifth year, and there have been a number of positive outcomes for the young people who have been involved. Joseph Langdon, 20, Assistant Director on Rhapsody for Youth, was a Truth about Youth ‘Experience Performing Arts’ participant in 2012. Joseph was an inmate at a young offenders’ institute at the time, he has since gone on to forge a professional career in acting as well as a permanent job in the Bristol Old Vic’s Box Office and Marketing Team. His story has been an inspiration to the young people on the course. He has now been accepted on to a course at the Mountview drama school in London, which will lead to a BA Honours degree. Joseph gave the following advice to anyone who wants to achieve their goals: “Give it your all. Be fearless. I know there are struggles, being in a prison and coming out is a struggle, but I managed to do it. Give it time, work on your craft and don’t be afraid to ask for help.”


22 June 2015