When the Georgian Theatre Royal’s Youth Theatre starts its autumn term in Richmond next month, it will be in newly-refurbished premises with a new leader at the helm.
Aimee Shields has been appointed Youth Theatre Officer at the historic venue and brings a wealth of experience as a drama and singing teacher, having worked extensively in both secondary schools and youth theatre groups in London and the North East.
She will direct Richmond’s highly successful youth theatre programme, which introduces young people from 6 to 18 years old to all aspects of theatre and stagecraft, including acting, directing, devising and stage management. Over the years, it has provided a launch pad for many students who have gone on to study drama or pursue successful theatre careers.
“I am thrilled to be taking up this exciting new post,” said Aimee who currently works for Stagecoach Theatre Arts in Newcastle and prior to that at the Pauline Quirke Academy in Durham. “The Georgian’s Youth Theatre has a long-standing reputation for excellence and to be based in the UK’s oldest working theatre with the opportunity to use its amazing stage for live performances is the icing on the cake.”
A graduate of the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts and Birkbeck University, Aimee has strong links in the performing arts industry - working with many leading directors, performers and writers - and is an active member of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Learning and Performance Network.
“My own youth theatre experience with the Gala Theatre Stage School in Durham gave me a great start in in both my career and personal development and I am passionate about sharing theatre with young people and the community. Youth theatre can be an excellent springboard into professional vocational training for those who want to take this route but equally it is ideal for young people who choose to use it as a hobby and part of a social life.
“I would like to see Richmond’s youth group becoming a key player at a national level by taking part in major youth festivals and working with prestigious organisations like the Royal Shakespeare Company. Next term the curriculum will see the introduction of lots of new elements such as acting through song, and stage combat, as well as the opportunity to learn some of the more technical skills associated with productions,” she added.
This summer also saw the unveiling of the newly-refurbished drama studio that is adjacent to the original 1788 Theatre building in Friar’s Wynd. Using money from a Heritage Lottery Grant and the bequest of a former Theatre Manager, Paul Iles, the studio has had a total make-over and now offers contemporary, full-equipped facilities for both performance and practice.
The Georgian Theatre Royal Youth Theatre is currently enrolling for classes starting in September, which are structured in three age bands: Juniors (6-11 years); Middles (11-14 years); and Seniors (14-18 years). They run on Monday and Tuesday evenings, and Saturdays during school term time.
A brand new class in Musical Theatre and Singing will run on a Wednesday evening for Juniors (6-11 years) and Middles/Seniors (11-18 years).
No previous experience is necessary for either class but pre-enrolment is essential and places are available on a first-come-first-served basis.