A year since Theatre31 was first formed, DCMS’s Youth Performance Partnerships Fund, the initiative run by Icon Theatre to engage young people with theatre in Medway and Sheppey has smashed all its targets and already engaged over 4,000 people even during lockdown by adapting practices and finding new ways to create theatrical experiences, from online premieres to playground tours.
The Cookham Wood Project is Theatre31’s most adventurous and authentic commission to date, truly representing their mission to reach hard to engage young people. Run in partnership with Medway Library Services – who run the library at Cookham Wood Young Offenders Institute – the project sees three terms of theatre workshops within the Institute each led by a renowned professional artist. Kicking things off is Lead Artist, Lady Unchained (Brenda Birungi) who brings not only her talent and craft in spoken word but a great deal of experience, knowledge, and passion with projects of this nature.
Lady Unchained’s mission is to prove that there is life after prison. Through poetry she tells her own personal story and the stories of those with experience of the criminal justice system that are often left untold, because of shame, stigma and negative labels. Lady Unchained will run a dedicated arts programme in Cookham Wood Young Offenders Institution, engaging the young people to devise and create a spoken word project, all within a creative and positive setting. The
ambition is that this opportunity will allow the young participants to enhance communication skills, build confidence and celebrate self expression.
Cookham Wood Young People’s Theatre Programme is co-commissioned by Cookham Wood Young Offender’s Institution and Theatre31, with support from Medway Council.
Theatre31 was set up in 2019 to empower children and young people across Medway and Sheppey with the aim of commissioning, co-creating and engaging them in performing arts activities. The whole project, run by Icon Theatre, is inspired by the idea that cultural and
artistic activities are a human right for all children and young people (aged 8 – 18). Importantly, Theatre31 is led by children and young people and focuses on reaching and engaging those participants who are less likely to take part in other cultural activities. It’s a visionary programme aiming to support children and young people develop confidence, aspirations, motivation, wellbeing and performing arts related knowledge and skills.
Theatre31 is not a building, a theatre or classroom – it is an arts centre for young people with no walls. Under the umbrella of Icon Theatre, the programme delivers amazing and ambitious risk taking projects (public facing and behind closed doors) in all the corners of Medway and Sheppey.
Theatre31 also aims to raise awareness about the amazing range of cultural opportunities available for children and young people in the region, developing sustainable channels of communications and connectivity for children, young people, schools, individual artists and creative organisations across Medway and Sheppey