Recognising the importance of engagement with the arts for children and young people, Brookside Theatre seeks to develop a sustainable programme of productions aimed at younger audiences. With support from the Foundation, it delivered two initial productions aimed at local children and their families.
Brookside Theatre is a community driven, 194-seat arts venue in Romford, which focuses on promoting and developing the arts by presenting a diverse, high quality programme of events and activities of national and local origin. The Theatre aims to entertain, enrich, inspire and educate the community by providing a theatrical experience that is both accessible and affordable, as well as facilitating social interaction and the chance to meet and engage with others.
In 2018, research found that children who have an interest or involvement in the performance arts are up to four times more likely to be recognised for their academic achievements and possess enhanced cognitive, motor and social skills. Participation in the arts also has a number of well-known benefits, from building confidence and developing communication skills through to increasing creativity and well-being. Locally, there has always been an inarguable lack of theatre productions aimed at young people. Brookside Theatre aims to change this by enriching the lives of the young people in the community and providing a sense of empowerment, escape and fun. Its initial youth production was The Tale of Peter Rabbit, a new musical adaptation based on one of Beatrix Potter’s most loved and endeared tales.
“Handed down from generation to generation, the story of the cheeky Peter Rabbit holds a special place in our hearts, so whether you’re looking for a hug of nostalgia or the perfect introduction to one of Beatrix Potter’s most famous tales, this is a truly charming production for the whole family to enjoy together; an enchanting experience for young and old alike.”
Each production culminated in a workshop for young audience members, offering the invaluable opportunity for participation as well as the chance to meet members of the cast. The opportunity for participation was also offered to local schools and the workshops were facilitated by the Theatre and industry professionals.
With support from the Foundation, the Theatre trialed subsidised tickets prices for the production alongside free tickets to financially disadvantaged families. This first two productions tested the sustainability of the model going forward and the potential for Brookside Theatre to offer a programme of affordable youth productions. When deciding upon future productions, the Theatre will consult young people, local schools and the education authority in order to ascertain which productions will serve to aid the current school curriculum, whilst being accessible to all. Visit Brookside Theatre’s website to find out more about future productions.