For theatre... online, non-professional, amateur


In response to our YouTube video: “No comment from the non-professional sector? …right, it’s just us then!” on 16 June 2021…

Hi there,
I hope you are well.
Thank you for voicing what so many of us are feeling. It is as if we have been swept under the carpet to clear away the mess. There seems to be no-one fighting our corner, so please keep up the good work.
Best wishes

In response to our YouTube videos in general…

Just a quick note to say many thanks for your continued videos – they are informative and interesting and I like that you continue to challenge things whether government policy, am-dram societies and umbrella bodies quietness on issues etc.
It has been good because you have shared some info of what is happening, some of which I knew and other parts were news to me. I’ve just been listening to the one hour epic with the LTG, the NDFA, and the ex-CEO of NODA. In many ways I think your last speaker was spot on in terms of how things have gone during the pandemic. Whilst I can’t disagree with the LTG and NDFA comments re. doing what their members want, I think a lot of societies were looking to these groups for more guidance or best practice on what can be done safely within Amateur theatre.
There is always a need to comment, complain, etc. if something isn’t right… At worst you are glad you vented, and at best you may just have reached the right person’s ear…
I am in a couple of am-dram theatre groups and to be honest have not received any info from them unless I chased, and even then I believe they hid behind the policy of ‘safer not to do anything until the country is fully open again’ message, and not taking any opportunities offered to assemble or get creative.
I am also an individual member of NODA and apart from a couple of newsletters that mention some of what other societies have done during lockdowns I have seen no guidance or information, and certainly no comment on the government’s 4-week delay etc. Their website, even the members section has hardly any references to Covid, and their sub-section on NODA safe has no example Covid-safe policy for amateur theatres… almost as if Covid doesn’t exist.
I am disappointed that as an am-dram group we are still not back in rehearsals as yet – despite technically being able to from 17 May, there just seems to be no appetite to make the necessary commitment to Covid safety to make things work now… so yes, nothing happening until after 19 July. And of course we do not yet know if that date is a safe bet yet…
Your last speaker on the one-hour video made some good points about the amateur theatre needing a voice.. I think he is right, and especially in these difficult times. It may well be that the professional theatre groups might also welcome that extra (amateur) voice too, and may even sponsor that inclusion in their overall lobbying approach.
I think the biggest worry going forward is not that amateur theatre will start up again and may flourish, but on how many individual members may have got used to not doing it, and may not be bothered when it does start again. A lot of societies may see a shortfall in numbers come the end of summer…
Thank you for your continuing comments and encouragement about theatre, as I said informative and a voice (maybe the only one!) for us all… Keep up the good work.

In response to our YouTube video: “No comment from the non-professional sector? …right, it’s just us then!” on 16 June 2021…

Absolutely right! If the people involved in non-professional theatre don’t speak up then they are, effectively, devaluing their creative sector.
Small theatres and am-dram theatre companies rely on bums on seats to keep going. Everyone involved in the performing arts sector should be raising questions and leading discussions like this!



Image: Denise with Duncan Banatine who invested in Razzamataz after she appeared on the BBC’s Dragon’s Den in 2007.

The pandemic has caused consumers to live differently, buy differently and think differently. It has also massively changed people’s priorities, which is why as a business we have learnt to adapt to their ever-changing needs.

Razzamataz Theatre Schools is a franchise network that places customers at the heart of all we do. As the franchisor, we advise, support and train franchisees across the UK on how to run their theatre schools. The key lesson that we instill in them is that they must connect with their customers and their communities.

While this has always been at the heart of our ethos, it is even more relevant now with people placing a greater emphasis on supporting local businesses. We must also appreciate that parents and families have gone through a very difficult year and we must be able to show them our support and that we truly care about them and their children.

As a Head Office, we ensure that we are always communicating with our franchisees and, in turn, encourage them to communicate with their customers. From a practical point of view, this means we ensure that we provide lots of template documents and social media updates so franchisees can personalise them easily to their own school.

With more than twenty years’ experience of running theatre schools and working with franchisees, I’ve learnt that in business, hard work always pays off. We have franchisees who have no experience in the performing arts industry but are still really successful. The only thing that our most successful theatre school owners share is their commitment to learn, positive attitude and their desire and drive to be successful.

I also firmly believe that you won’t be successful in your business in you are not truly passionate about it. Although I’ve been doing this for more than twenty years, I still get really excited when new opportunities present themselves. To work in a sector that combines performing arts and children’s education is a real privilege and I will never take it for granted. The franchisees that we invite into the network must share this passion; we can give them all the training and practical guidance they need to run a theatre school but the commitment to improve young people’s lives through performing arts must come from them.

Finally, I strongly believe that you must be open to change and adapt where necessary. This year has shown us all that there can be huge rewards if you are willing to adapt to the situation around you. If you truly believe that your business can benefit the community don’t be afraid to shout about it. Children and families need the support of activity providers now more than ever so keep communicating the positive benefits with case studies and testimonials to show the many ways in which we can provide increased opportunities for young people.

Telephone: 07821 122242

What is a franchise?
Walk along any UK high street, pick up any product or think of a service and chances are that they will be part of a successful franchise brand. A franchise is a business that gives the right to another person to sell goods or services using its name in exchange for a franchise fee. In return, that individual will receive training, marketing and support to become part of the network.

Different levels of investment
Every franchise has a different level of investment. Brands such as McDonald’s, Domino’s and Starbucks can cost up to £300,000 pricing it out of reach for many people. Razzamataz is a low investment franchise, costing between under £8,000 to under £10,000 although the return on investment is excellent.

How much money can I make?
Franchisees at Razzamataz report six figure turnover and 70% gross profit. Unlike many other franchise networks, the management fee is just 10%. As a long-term investment, the franchise offers huge potential. One franchise school is currently on the market for sale for £200k, having been purchased ten years ago for just under £10,000.

How to fund a franchise
Razzamataz Theatre Schools has been a successful business for more than twenty years. This means that many high street banks are willing to lend to potential franchisees because individual success has been proved time and time again. Razzamataz has easy access to funding via Barclays, offering many people the opportunity to join the network.

Finance options
Barclays has a specific department to help franchisees. Whatever bank you choose to go with, make sure this is the department you speak to. Services offered at Barclays include:
Funding for start-ups, multi-operator and re-sales.
Loans tailored to your unique franchise requirements.
Free banking for twelve months to help you get your franchise off the ground.
Bespoke pricing, pre-determined lending rates and unsecured finance options.

Where to start researching your franchise
The Internet and social media is a great first point of contact. After that, you need to dig a lot deeper and meet the franchisor and other franchisees. Discovery Dens are informal meetings between the franchisor and potential franchisee to learn more about each other and whether they are a good fit. Before embarking on a Discovery Den, it is advisable to do some initial research so you can get lots out of the meeting and leave with a clear understanding of whether you want to take the next steps.

What to expect from a Discovery Den at Razzamataz
Currently, all Discovery Dens are held virtually. You can meet the team from the comfort of your own home. However, this doesn’t mean the experience is any less thorough and you are encouraged to ask lots of questions and you will find out more about franchising in general, what training and support you will be given at Razzamataz and to find out if you are suitable to run your own theatre school.

What to expect

  • Meet the Head Office team.
  • Meet other franchisees.
  • Speak to our Founder Denise.
  • Learn more about franchising.
  • Find out about being a theatre school owner.
  • Get the inside scoop on Dragons’ Den.
  • Tips for would-be entrepreneurs.
  • Find out about new opportunities.
  • Huge savings and discounts available for the right candidates

What to ask the franchisor
Denise Hutton-Gosney is the MD and Founder of Razzamataz Theatre Schools. She has been a franchisor since 2007, giving her years’ of experience supporting franchisees. These are her top tips on how to prepare and what questions to ask:
Visit the franchisor’s website and read through all prospectuses and marketing material. Check out social media and in particular, testimonials from customers and other franchisees.
Have a list of questions prepared before you go. At Razzamataz, our Discovery Dens are very thorough and we usually cover all questions during the presentation but it is best to be prepared.
Think about your own skills and experience and what you can bring to the role. At Razzamataz, we have a stringent vetting system to only recruit the very best to ensure the high standards of our schools.

Why franchise when you could be an independent?
This is a question that is often asked before people truly understand what it takes to run a theatre school. Michaela Crumpton, franchisee Razzamataz Bristol North and South says: “Many people have said to me ‘why are you part of a franchise?’ ‘Why not set up independently’. These are all great questions and to an outsider it would be the obvious thing to be independent. But let me explain why I believe I’ve survived a year of turbulence and feel stronger. Being part of a franchise has been like having a whole family holding me up. Looking at many of our independent competitors, they have either vanished or been dormant for the last twelve months. I can’t recommend Razzamataz enough. Their support has been incredible and it even inspired me to take on another school during lockdown.”

Join our team
Join our multi-award winning team. We are looking for dynamic and passionate partners to own a Razzamataz Theatre School! Contact us on 07821 122242 or by visiting and speak with us about our business opportunity to become a Razzamataz Principal today.

All training is done remotely from the comfort of your own home!

Re-sale opportunities
Occasionally franchise territories come up for re-sale due to a change in the franchisees’ personal circumstances or simply because they have decided to sell their asset and reap the rewards of their hard work. These re-sale schools very rarely stay on the market for long, so if you are interested, don’t delay in contacting us. Re-sale schools in:
High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire
Paisley, Renfrewshire
Horsham, West Sussex
Derby, East Midlands

Facebook: @RTSLtd ~ Instagram: @razzschools
Twitter: @razzschools ~ LinkedIn: Razzamataz Theatre Schools

Franchise lingo If you are new to franchising, here are some of the main terms that you need to be familiar with:
Franchise: the right given by one business to another to sell goods using its name
Franchisee: a business that agrees to manufacture, distribute or sell branded products under the licence of a franchisor
Franchisor: a business that gives franchisees the right to manufacture, distribute or sell its branded products in return for a fixed sum of money or royalty payment
Operations Manual: a document that contains all of the information necessary for the franchisee to be able to operate the business.
Exclusive Territory: a geographically defined area inside which a franchisee can operate.

YOUR NEWS – Groundlings Are Back!

YOUR NEWS – Groundlings Are Back!

Main photo: John Wildgoose

By Paul Johnson

The much-loved £5 ‘Groundling’ standing tickets are back at Shakespeare’s Globe coinciding with the current production of Twelfth Night which is now running until 30 October 2021.

As a result of the easing of restrictions not permitting standing theatre tickets, the open-air Globe theatre has announced that 200 standing tickets are available for each performance. This number will allow for those who choose to socially distance in the Yard. The number of standing tickets available will incrementally increase throughout the summer until the end of August when 400 Groundling tickets will be available for each performance.

Seating capacity will also increase throughout the summer with spaces between groups sat on the same row remaining until mid-August. The open-air theatre has laid out plans to be back to full seated capacity by 23 August. The maximum capacity of the Globe is normally 1,600 and the theatre will return to full Groundling capacity (circa 600-700) at a future date. Since May 2021, The Globe has welcomed over 32,000 audience members into 79 performances in the open-air theatre.

Despite restrictions being lifted, safety remains of key importance to the Globe. As such, social distancing onstage, no intervals and reduced audience capacity will continue to remain in place for the time being. Globe staff will continue to wear a face covering and audiences are encouraged to do the same. Enhanced cleaning, hand-sanitiser stations, contactless ticketing, modified routes and arrival points to avoid overcrowding will also remain.

The piazza and onsite facilities (including the Globe shop) have also reopened before performances. Restrictions on booking party sizes have been lifted and temperature checks and check-in via the NHS app will no longer be mandatory. The Globe will also maintain its ‘Book with Confidence and Exchange with Ease’ pledge, allowing exchanges up to 24 hours ahead of a performance if a ticket holder cannot attend due to Covid-19 related issues.

The Swan at the Globe restaurant now boasts full-seating capacity. Welcoming guests for the bar, dining and events in a socially responsible manner.

Michelle Terry, Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe, told Sardines: “The very thing that theatre thrives on is the one thing that Covid denied us: the live, alchemical relationship between play, actor, audience, space and time. It has been beyond incredible to have opened our doors to live theatre again. The beating heart of that space is the unique and ultra-live relationship between actor and groundling, standing together and ready for action. Well, we’re all ready. And we can’t wait!”


Photo: Clive Sherlock


Summer Holidays

Shakespeare’s Globe is offering a host of exciting courses and events throughout the summer holidays:

Summer Schools (8-19 years)
Perfect for aspiring actors and academics, Summer Schools in 2021 offer young people an unparalleled opportunity to develop their skills with Globe professionals.
Courses taking place online and onsite in August 2021.
For more information please visit: courses/summer-schools-2021/

Telling Tales (Family Festival)
Telling Tales is back on stage live with a festival of storytelling for the summer holidays. Until 22 August these storytelling performances will take you on a sensory, interactive adventure giving younger audiences the chance to get into Shakespeare’s stories in the splendid surroundings of the indoor Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.
For more information please visit: seasons/telling-tales-2021/

Family Guided Tours of the Globe Theatre
Ideal for those with children aged 7-11 years old. The Globe Theatre Guided Tour introduces younger visitors to Shakespeare’s London and to the theatrical world he created.
For more information please visit:


YOUR NEWS – Hunger for Performance

YOUR NEWS – Hunger for Performance

By Chloë Abley

In a year like no other, Brighton Fringe invited audiences to escape to the seaside and they flocked: 80,000 tickets were sold for drag, comedy, family, circus, theatre and more.
Both income and ticket sales amount to approximately 46% of the Brighton Fringe 2019 figures. An estimated 170,000 people enjoyed the Brighton Fringe both online and in-person.
The largest arts festival in England, this year Brighton Fringe held 2,501 more performances than in 2019.
Plus in 2021, 630 events (170 digital and 460 in-person) materialised into 7,216 performances for Brighton audiences and those comfy at home.
More venues than ever also joined in across the city with 166 playing host to the most weird, wild and wonderful shows from around the world! The events presented represents approximately 60% of Brighton Fringe 2019 but there was still plenty to choose from with 2,523 in-person and 4,693 digital performances.
Brighton Fringe CEO Julian Caddy comments, “We are hugely grateful to all participants, venues, staff, volunteers, Friends, funders, sponsors and all our other partners for the immense hard work in making Brighton Fringe happen this year. To our audiences, a massive thanks for attending so enthusiastically and also for following the Covid safety guidance. It was such a relief to be back after so long and we can’t wait for 2022. In the meantime, I think we’ve all earned a bit of a break.”
Celebrating the success of the artists who made Brighton Fringe possible, they announced their award-winners in a special July prize-giving. Recipient of the Fringe Review Outstanding Theatre Award was Clean: The Musical while Julie Madly Deeply won the Brighton Gin Cabaret & Variety Award.
Brighton Fringe embraces every art form and artist in its exciting and unusual programme. The open-access arts festival prides itself on welcoming established and emerging artists, supporting those taking their first steps with a variety of bursaries. It offers much-loved returning acts alongside exciting newcomers with comedy, theatre, circus, exhibitions, magic, dance, children’s shows and much, much more.

YOUR NEWS – New Writing Wanted

YOUR NEWS – New Writing Wanted

Did you pen a short play during lockdown? Would you like to see it performed?

Streatham Theatre Company’s annual September workshop for new writing – Streatham Shorts – is fast approaching and the amateur society is on the hunt for unpublished sketches, monologues and short plays.
Send your script in and, if accepted, STC will perform and discuss your work at its workshop on 14 Sep.
The process couldn’t be easier. Submissions should be sent to titled ‘Streatham Shorts’ by Wednesday, 25 August. Please include your name and contact details.
Unpublished monologues, sketches and short plays are acceptable (10 minutes maximum run-time).
Extracts from longer works are not suitable for this event. Submissions are limited to one per person.
Selected writers will be notified and should ideally be available to introduce and/or present their piece at the workshop which will be held in person (subject to any Covid restrictions).
Entries may also be performed by Streatham Theatre Company actors at the group’s Christmas Streatham’s Got Talent event.
For more information please go to:

Judges’ decisions are final!

STC was forced to perform its annual Christmas Special online in 2020.

YOUR NEWS – GP Receptionist Wins First-Ever National Poetry Competition on Key Workers

YOUR NEWS – GP Receptionist Wins First-Ever National Poetry Competition on Key Workers

By Anna Zanetti

Clean for Good, award-winning ethically conscious cleaning business, has announced the winners of Poetry for Good, the first-ever nationwide poetry competition celebrating the lives and careers of the UK’s key workers.
The first poetry competition ever run by a cleaning company, Poetry for Good received nearly 500 submissions from across the UK in less than ten weeks, with participants aged eleven years old and upwards. It attracted interest from established poets as well as first-timers, was adopted by schools as a project, and has produced poems celebrating nurses, teachers, shopkeepers, scaffolders, chaplains, cleaners and even undertakers, written by key workers themselves, their children, or by those inspired by key workers.
Taking home the Spoken Word award (for spoken poetry from those aged 16 or more) was The Front Desk by Gemma Barnett (London). An actress who found herself out of work in 2020, Gemma got a job working as a receptionist in a GP surgery. In her poem, she pays tribute to her “empathetic, gutsy, blunt, charming, and hilarious colleagues,” who powered through the whole pandemic no matter what – some fell ill and were in the ICU with Covid, whilst others had lost family members but still continued to show up to work.
The winner of the Written Word category (written poems from those aged 16 or more) was the poem Night Shift by Violet Smart (London), a poem inspired by a cleaner who worked at her university, but moved on to working in hospitals. The judges praised the poem for creating “a stunning visual and intimate painting of the NHS and life as a key worker through the use of the rich and sensory language,” and for its “dynamic integration of Spanish, which really adds both colour and life to the poem as well as playing homage to the vast Latinx community which holds up the NHS.”
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Dunford (Notts.) was Highly Commended in the same category for her poem Kate, inspired by the “energy, kindness and humour” of a carer working in the residential home of her 91-year-old father, and so was Always under the COSHH by Mark Cowan (Stockton on Tees), a teacher who also worked as a cleaner in his early twenties; Mark noted a cleaner’s work, “is most noticed when it isn’t completed. We take it for granted that the dirty floors that we left behind yesterday will shine and sparkle by the following morning.”
In the Growing Word category (written poems for those aged 11-15), Life Support, by Jacinta-Maria Ifeoluwapo Chidiebere Wajero (Liverpool) won the first prize, and was praised by the judges for the “careful thought and commitment to the metaphor of oxygen,” used as a symbol for the essential, exposed, often invisible role of a key member of society.
The ‘Top 100’ poems from the competition, including the winners, are being published online as a permanent celebration of the sacrifices made over the last year by millions of workers. This is a unique anthology of poems, heart-breaking, inspiring, and sometimes amusing, and a testament to the work of all those who have kept our nation safe, well and on the move over the past year.
Poetry for Good was judged by three internationally acclaimed poets: Cecilia Knapp, the new London Young People’s Laureate for 2021; Rachel Long, who has been shortlisted for the Costa Book Award, Forward Prize for Poetry and the Rathbones Folio Prize, and is the Founder of Octavia, the Poetry Collective for Women of Colour; and Katherine Lockton, Editor of South Bank Poetry and published poet with flipped eye publishing. All judging was undertaken with authors’ names removed and on artistic merit alone.
Katherine Lockton, one of the competition’s poets on the Judging Panel, said: ‘I was impressed by the sheer number of poems that were submitted and the quality of the entries. The standard was incredible and it was clear that people had invested a vast amount of energy and creativity in their submissions. It was also clear how much they appreciated and loved key workers. They celebrated everyone from cleaners to nurses and shop keepers. There was everything from free verse, rhymed poems to villanelles. It was clear that a lot of talented writers had submitted.”
Organised by Clean for Good, one of the UK’s most dynamic social-purpose companies, the competition is part of their wider mission to promote fair pay and dignity at work for cleaners – a category whose work has been severely impacted by Covid.
Tim Thorlby, MD of Clean for Good, said: “We have read every poem submitted and have been delighted – and heartbroken – by the public’s response to Poetry for Good. We want to thank everyone who participated and shared their thoughts with us. So many of these poems share personal and moving stories from the sharp end of life over the last year. If anyone was in any doubt that something needs to change for millions of low paid workers in the UK today, then this selection of stories surely settles that debate for good.”

Twitter: @PoetryforGoodUK
Twitter: @Clean4Good


YOUR NEWS (Youth, Student, Graduate) – Moving On

YOUR NEWS (Youth, Student, Graduate) – Moving On

Grace Towning Billy The Kid.  Photo: Stephen Candy

Ariel Company Theatre Students Gain Places at National Youth Music Theatre

By Bethany Gavin

Ariel Drama Academies’ students, Ed Hooper, Grace Towning and Flo Barton have gained places at the prestigious National Youth Music Theatre this summer.
From thousands of applicants and a rigorous audition process, Ed, Grace and Flo have been selected to showcase their theatrical talents at a National level. Ed and Flo attend Ariel’s Burgess Hill Academy, with Grace in attendance at our Crawley Academy. All students have been members of Ariel for several years and have paid credit to the ongoing training they receive at Ariel.
Ed Hooper and Grace Towning will perform Billy The Kid at The Other Palace, London, with Flo Barton travelling to Manchester for The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Ariel’s Burgess Hill Academy Principal, Marisha Gray says, “We are all so thrilled that our students have been selected to perform with NYMT this summer. They work so hard and are really deserving of this exciting opportunity, especially after such a difficult year for the arts.”
Abi Paige, Crawley Academy Principal says, “I’m immensely proud of our students. They all have bright futures ahead of them, and with Ariel behind them, we can’t wait to see what comes next.”
And the good news doesn’t stop there for Ariel, with another student, William Dunn, selected to perform Nightshade with British Youth Music Theatre in Plymouth.
“We have a long history with students performing with NYMT and BYMT, and the experiences they gain through these productions is mesmerising. It is very gratifying to know that the skills they learn at Ariel can be applied to further performance opportunities,” says Nicci Hopson, Artistic Director and Founder of Ariel Company Theatre.
Ariel Company Theatre has been busy programming its own activities throughout the summer holiday, with one-day workshops running from 2 – 6 Aug across multiple venues throughout Sussex.
From puppetry to stage combat, musical theatre, street dance, Harry Potter and industry professional guests from smash hits, Six, Cats, Wicked and We Will Rock You, they have something for everyone.

If you would like to register your interest and find out more, please visit or call 01444 250407.

Ariel Drama Academies have venues in Burgess Hill, Crawley, East Grinstead, Hayward’s Heath, Horsham and Shoreham. If you’d like to enquire about a free trial:



YOUR NEWS (Youth, Student, Graduate) – Scholarships

YOUR NEWS (Youth, Student, Graduate) – Scholarships

Past winners of The Stage scholarship: Photo: Alex Brenner

Razzamataz Theatre Schools announces and congratulates The Stage scholarship winners

By Karen Keeman

The world may have been put on hold but that hasn’t stopped children and young people dreaming of their futures.
For those with a passion for performing arts, a national theatre school network has helped keep those dreams alive with a prestigious scholarship worth up to £855 per student.
Over the last few months, all of the part-time franchises in the Razzamataz Theatre School network have worked alongside the prestigious newspaper for the performing arts industry The Stage.
Together, they have created an exciting scholarship opportunity for children and young people across the UK.
The network is offering thousands of pounds worth of free tuition, something which means a great deal to many families trying to support their kids.
“We are so proud to once again offer these prestigious scholarships in association with The Stage newspaper,” says Denise Hutton Gosney, MD and Founder of Razzamataz Theatre Schools. “It’s been particularly challenging for business with all the lockdowns but we were all determined that our students and young people in the community would not miss out on this wonderful opportunity. Although the impact of Covid has hit small businesses like ours very hard, we collectively felt that it was important to continue to offer as many opportunities as possible to support young people who have had to show incredible resilience over the last year and a half.
“A huge congratulations to all of our scholarship winners and we are delighted to welcome lots of new students to the Razzamataz Family.”
The scholarships were open to all young people between the ages of 6-18. Both current Razzamataz students and those that haven’t had any formal training were eligible to apply. For young people who have had to continue their practice at home while in lockdown or isolating, they have shown a huge amount of drive and determination.
“The performing arts are wonderful but competitive and our students have proved that they have the resilience to work their way through the difficult times,” adds Denise. “For children who have never had any training before, we are so delighted to welcome them to Razzamataz and the excellent training that our schools offer.
“We know what a positive impact the performing arts can offer all children so we are so pleased that our franchisees have continued this exceptional offer.”
Former Razzamataz scholarship students have gone on to be successful in many West End shows including Hamilton, &Juliet, Matilda, School of Rock and many TV shows as well as a starring in a Disney movie.

Facebook: @RTSLtd
Twitter: @razzschools

YOUR NEWS (Youth, Student, Graduate) – Forward to the Future!

YOUR NEWS (Youth, Student, Graduate) – Forward to the Future!

The Jack Patchey Foundation launches its Forward to the Future creative competition


The Jack Petchey Foundation is full of great ideas to keep young people occupied during the long summer holidays.
Here is one big highlight from the philanthropist’s July newsletter: It’s a creative cometition to say what you think life might be like in ninety-six years time – 2117 – for the chance to win £500! Ninety-six just so happens to be Jack Petchey’s next birthday.
He could have never imagined the changes he would see in his life – from pocket-sized computers to bullet trains – so we want young people to think about what amazing things we could see in another 96 years!
You’ve got the entire summer holidays to complete your entry as the competition doesn’t close until the end of September.
Here are some of the main points:
Young people can enter any creative piece exploring a positive vision of life in 96 years including: artwork, photography, a short video, collage, dance, song, a piece of creative writing or any other creative means they are able to submit digitally.
We want young people to use their artistic interests and skills to explore the topic of a positive future in 2117 in any way they would like, as long as it is an original piece that can be submitted digitally to the Foundation.
The competition is open to any young person from London and Essex aged 11-19 to enter
Entries must be submitted digitally (e.g. a video recording of a dance, taking a photo of a painting) in accordance with our Terms and Conditions
Entries must offer a positive and inspiring vision of life in 2117 and must be original.
The winning entry will be awarded a £500 artistic development grant to be spent on equipment, lessons or trips to help them follow their chosen artistic endeavours
Shortlisted entries will be displayed in the Jack Petchey Forward to the Future exhibition
Competition closes 30 September 2021.
Young people interested in entering the competition should visit the Jack Petchey Foundation website for full information, entry form and Terms and Conditions. Please pass this on to the young people you work with!

The all-important website link is:


YOUR NEWS (Youth, Student, Graduate) – Student Wins National Theatre Competition!

YOUR NEWS (Youth, Student, Graduate) – Student Wins National Theatre Competition!

Image: Mackenzie Wellfare

National Theatre announces winner of 2021 nationwide New Views playwriting competition for young people


17-year-old student, Mackenzie Wellfare, from HSDC Alton in Hampshire has been announced as the winner of the National Theatre’s annual playwriting competition for 14–19-year-olds.

This year has seen more first drafts of scripts submitted to the competition than ever before, with the winning play, Perspective, selected from over 400 final entries from 74 secondary schools and colleges across the UK.

Inspired to write this play to share his own experience of autism as well as others’ Perspective by Mackenzie Wellfare explores the experiences of a teenage boy, Leo, with autism through his conversations with his best friend Shaun. Set in his bedroom, Leo’s big imagination fills the stage as he considers how the world sees him.

Perspective was selected from a shortlist of nine plays by a panel of judges including NT’s Head of Play Development Nina Steiger, playwright & screenwriter Beth Steel, playwright & performer Mojisola Adebayo and Jenny Sealey, Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre Company.

The play was performed in a full production by professional actors at the National Theatre and was also streamed to participating schools across the UK in July before the end of termtime, alongside rehearsed readings of seven shortlisted plays as part of the digital festival of new writing. Following the production, Mackenzie also took part in a live streamed Q&A about his play alongside the director.

The digital festival also showcased the work of a group of D\deaf students from Eastbury Community School’s Alternative Resource Provision.

The students have taken part in playwriting workshops facilitated by Jenny Sealey, Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre and have developed scenes exploring their experiences of the world. A selection of these scenes entitled Conversation Breakdown were directed by Jenny Sealey and performed as part of the rehearsed readings.

Mackenzie Wellfare said, “I’m so excited to have won! To have my play performed is just unbelievable and I can’t wait to see how it turns out! I want to show a perspective of Autism that I believe hasn’t been truly shown in modern media, and yet which some people experience every day of their lives.”

Jenny Sealey, Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre and member of the judging panel added, “Perspective has a matureness in its unpacking of the heart stuff. It’s an important play, beautifully simple in its mass of complexity.”

Nina Steiger, NT’s Head of Play Development and member of the judging panel, told us, “In what was a landmark year that took a particularly heavy toll on young people and the performing arts, it was thrilling for us to receive over 400 submissions from all over the UK. The final plays were about identity, imagination, and love and the bravery of expressing these elements of what makes us human, and perhaps what we’ve missed most in being together. That these plays were written at home in lockdown, developed with teachers and mentors over the difficult platform of group Zoom sessions, and that the voices in these plays nevertheless resonate with truthfulness, joy and life force is a testament to the importance of this programme and the self-expression it enables.”

This year the programme was delivered digitally through workshops with professional writers, a playwriting course and the opportunity to watch NT productions for free online, as well as a pre-recorded masterclass on writing for audio with Audible, the official Audio Partner of New Views. Students wrote their own original 30-minute plays, exploring topical issues from mental health and the pandemic to politics & relationships.

The seven shortlisted plays are:

  • In a Room with Gavin and Francesa
    by Aran Grover
    St Olave’s School, London
  • The Nursing Home
    by Charlotte D’Angelo
    Wimbledon High School, London
  • Childhood, War and Love
    by Ellie Sharman
    Ricard’s Lodge, London
  • Colour Inside the Lines
    by Jamila Salim – Haberdashers’
    Aske’s Boy’s School, Herts
  • Billionaire’s Row
    by Joel Wall
    Oxted School, Surrey
  • Bus Stops
    by Mia Galanti
    Lady Margaret School, London
  • Rose Coloured Glasses
    by Nyah With
    Southend School for Girls, Essex