Amy initially started Gobo Theatre to help young artists get started in their careers as having to work for free and the ‘the need to get experience’ issue are both big problems within the arts, especially for young people who are just starting out. Young performers are expected to work for free, and if they don’t someone else will so they lose the job and now we’re losing the diversity as only the more privileged can be supported by their families to do that.
Many key performers, young and older, are coming out against the state of how artists get started in the business with the loss in repertory theatres and the expense of drama schools. Dame Judi Dench was reported in the Telegraph last year as saying “actors from working-class backgrounds are being held back by the decline of traditional repertory theatre companies”and Julie Walters in an interview with the Daily Mail said “where do kids start out? They have to pay a lot to go to drama school... But working class kids can't afford that. Soon the only actors are going to be privileged kids whose parents can afford to send them to drama school. That's not right. It feels like we are going backwards."
Gobo Theatre is trying to change that. Their actors are hired for their lack of experience and taught on the job – not only acting but accountancy, marketing, professionalism and all the other skills that come with being self-employed. Of course they have to be talented too, “we had around 250 applications for our cast of 5 on our last tour” says David Hunter who produced the show.
“We want to offer opportunities but we also need to produce good theatre to keep audiences inspired and passionate about what young people can do”. These full blown tours are for aspiring actors leaving school or university up to age 25, however a few years ago Gobo opened its doors to the younger years, starting an affordable youth theatre for ages 6-21.
Gobo Yoof is trying to break the mould by offering a different pricing structure that allows anyone to take part. We set the fee for the student based on the family’s household income. We’re doing this because we believe that the ‘soft’ skills that the performing arts teaches are essential for anyone to learn as they are so useful in all walks of life.
Problem-solving, creativity, communication, team work and confidence are vital to any workplace, home or social situation and Amy Standish, Director of Gobo, is trying to ensure that these opportunities are an option for everyone.
Gobo believes being part of a theatre production can help young people learn ways to improve skills like these. The cast is a classic team filled with challenges, not to mention the scale of how you actually mount a production and the bravery needed to step onstage. GoboYOOF involves its participants in all parts of the production, not only the performing.Join our maling list
Students take part in set design, making costumes and choosing props – this enhances their opportunities for creativity, problem-solving and team working even more and helps them understand that, as with any product, it’s not just about the “star” of the show. Gobo wants this available to everybody, not just those that can afford it.Email us
Sophie is 15 and one of Gobo’s participants. She has Autism and doesn’t attend school so apart from home education, youth theatre is the only schooling she gets. Sophie’s Mum is a single parent living on disability benefits and is very grateful to Gobo Theatre Foundation for the reduced fee that allows Sophie to take part in this sort of activity and the extra skills it teaches her.Support us
It may take time to break this cycle of inequality as the engagement from all backgrounds needs investment of time from the Arts community but we’re trying to do our bit and hope you can be part of that too.Call us 07970 581 924