CYT Goes Digital by Nora Besley

Picture this: you have two minutes to find two items of clothing in your home that belong to someone else. A bobble hat? A beret? Sunglasses or a jacket? Put them on. This is your character. On the spot you must come up with a backstory and monologue about why you cannot dance right now. This is the kind of activity we use to explore fun situations at Camden Youth Theatre (CYT)

In March 2020 the world as we knew it changed. Schools, shops and most importantly theatres had to close for public protection. For CYT, it meant that our weekly sessions came to an abrupt stop, with an unclear idea of how they would function over the following months. How could we continue to devise and make drama without being face to face?

In my first year sixth form, maintaining motivation to keep up with my work has been tough. A schedule has been crucial for me to keep momentum, so knowing that on Mondays I would be able to see my friends, as well as completing fun exercises and games, has given me a target to aim for throughout the monotonous weeks.

The weekly Zoom sessions have given my lockdown a sense of structure and shown me a whole other way of interacting with people. CYT works with devising and improvisation and I was astounded at how transferable this was to online sessions. Whether it was as simple as ‘passing’ an object to each other from Zoom window to Zoom window or transforming activities we used to play face to face to use virtual chat, the range of ideas showed that the show could and would go on.

I look forward to Mondays because I know it will be a fun evening, a break from work and a great way to start the week. The sessions have allowed people to express their creativity through writing songs, filming videos and devising games for us to play.

I feel our rapport as a theatre group has been strengthened and that we have been able to get to know each other even more through virtual means. This is shown through our performances and the creations we have made in lockdown.

When we go back – and I hope we will go back soon because theatre does need to be live – there is no doubt that we will go back stronger. Not only have we bonded as a group, but we have laid the foundations for so many ideas to be developed in person. Despite the situation, CYT has prospered under difficult conditions and will only continue to thrive.

Thank you to Lakeisha Lynch-Stevens, Chloe Young and the group members for continuing to make CYT sessions a really enjoyable experience.

Camden Youth Theatre is a free youth theatre for 13-19-year-olds living or going to school in Camden. It is run by Camden People’s Theatre and New Diorama Theatre and it is funded by the John Lyons Charity and Mercers’ Philanthropy.