Case Study: Oldham Coliseum Theatre
BY: Alan Lynch
05 Sep 2018
Oldham Young Carers is a group based at Positive Steps Oldham, an organisation that aims to help young people across the area make a successful transition into adult life and fulfil their potential. Oldham Coliseum Theatre’s Outreach programme offers groups who may not usually access the work of the theatre, the chance to take part in creative activities that can have a considerable impact on personal development.
A group of around twenty young carers aged 8-11 met one evening a week for over two months with additional sessions taking place at the Oldham Coliseum Theatre. They completed Arts Award Explore alongside their project. The Young Carers’ Key Worker and the Outreach Officer from Oldham Coliseum Theatre trained as advisers.
For Part B (Find out), the Young Carers group met for a whole day at Oldham Coliseum Theatre, taking part in what was framed as an Inspire through Theatre Day. They went on a tour of the building, including backstage, met and talked with staff and performers, watched a rehearsal with the Artistic Director and took part in different workshops, such as designing and making a costume. Each child created a mood board reflecting their feelings, memories and impressions of the visit. They were given notebooks at the start of the project and also made recordings in these. Following on from this, sessions were delivered at their centre on a weekly basis, with visits from the Coliseum’s Press Officer and Russell Richardson, an actor they saw rehearsing in the play Deathtrap.
For Part A (inspire), they were involved in a number of drama activities to successfully further understand the workings of a theatre. For example, they created short drama scenes based on how a play is produced using tableau. The tour and rehearsal they observed helped shape this with an activity that embedded drama key skills. The tableaus illustrated the process of producing a show, from the casting, rehearsal, the design and finally when the show opens on Press Night.
For their Part C (create), the children worked with the Press Officer and designed their own posters for a production using paint, collage materials and other resources. The children were encouraged to think about what content needed to be on a poster to advertise a performance, such as price, dates etc. They were encouraged to use their creativity but also to understand the business element of the theatre.
For Part D (present), the children posted their work and talked about their experience on the theatre’s blog. They were encouraged to share the things that had inspired them the most about the theatre and what they’d learnt from each part of Explore with the theatre’s online community. The blog was managed by the Coliseum’s Press Officer, which tied the evaluation into the project as a whole.
‘I’m really excited by the new award and I feel as if the work piloted could be a long standing programme of work for the theatre. Whenever using Arts Award I find that my projects are structured thoroughly, with built in evaluation, clear objectives and indicators of success. The results of the pilot were fantastic and children developed a detailed understanding of the theatre and the workings of the building. In partnership with formal educational settings there is potential for the award to work on a cross curricular basis, developing enterprise skills and literacy and numeracy as all aspects of the creative and business side of the theatre is explored.’ - Carly Henderson, Outreach Officer, Oldham Coliseum Theatre
'The project has been really insightful, fun and engaging for the young people. Our partnership has strengthened as a result.’ - Mandie Whymark, Key Worker, Oldham Young Carers
‘Arts Award provides recognition for creative achievement, something that can be difficult to measure. The new levels will provide children with great analytical skills to take to secondary school.’ - Carly Henderson, Oldham Coliseum Theatre
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