The ‘ACTS’ are a collaboration between Red Phoenix Storytelling & Productions and York House Centre in Stony Stratford. Together our ethos is to support community, youth, and the arts in the local area, and to provide opportunities and experiences for all. We believe the performing arts should be for everyone no matter their age, background, or ability. However, most drama groups are expensive, require auditions, and can be pressurised environments. Having worked in the performance industry for over 20 years I felt youth theatre should be different. Performance skills can benefit everyone by creating a fun and safe environment to experiment and gain core life skills such as communication, cooperation, problem solving, memory, multi-tasking, spatial awareness, focus, and community spirit. Whatever the future holds for our participants, being able to communicate confidently and cooperate with others are essential life skills
How it started
Terrie Howey created ACT OUT as a drama group that required no auditions and was open to any young people interested in taking part, at a minimal cost to parents (£3.50 a session or £35 per term) with the support of York House Centre, Stony Stratford to provide a much-needed youth arts programme available to all backgrounds and abilities in the local area. Terrie (Artistic Director of Red Phoenix), brings over twenty years of experience working, performing and teaching the performing arts around the world to the project, and York House provides the venue, funding administration, and marketing distribution. Although we create performances, we do these to showcase our skills, to give back to the local community and to raise funds to keep going. ACT OUT started in 2014 with 15 children between 8-13yrs, and it became so popular we became two groups, ACT OUT 7-10yrs, and ACT UP 11-16yrs. Recently we expanded again to cater for demand by starting ACTinies a non-performance group for 4-6yrs using drama and storytelling to build confidence and independence. Every year we create a Summer Gala where the participants write, direct and produce their own plays including sound and lighting. We are not just a performance group since we also offer skills both on and backstage. I was never more delighted when an 8yr old handed me a clever and witty 15-page script he had written himself. As a group we also get involved in many of the local festivals and events, performing on the streets and parks of our town, and being a real part of our community.
Why we need your help
After the first two years our funding was cut, but we have been determined not to put the extra costs on to parents, which may deny access to some children. York House Centre has been instrumental in finding small pots of funding to keep us going and the group itself has been active in raising money by creating a Santa’s Grotto at local event days, and hitting the streets singing carols with a dalek! We’ve also had a fundraising 'Oscars night' to launch a local history film we were involved in, and we’ve produced an annual panto every year since 2015. On average we raise around £2,500 through term fees and events every year, and recently we secured £500 to be able to offer 5 sponsored places to young people who would otherwise not be able to afford even our subsidised fees. We apply to local and national funders, and get small pots of funding, but each year we need to raise around £8,000 to cover room rental, facilitator fees, and props and costumes. Making live theatre is not cheap, but for us it is essential in providing a unique experience for young people to grow and discover themselves. We do hope that you agree and are able to support us in continuing to provide this opportunity for more young people.
Louisa Hobbs: Act out is a brilliant way for kids of all ages to gain confidence, learn skills and have fun. My son has been given the freedom and support to write his own sketches and has loved rehearsing and performing them.
Sue Alexandridis: Act out - in [my son's own] words " It's really fun, the things you learn come in handy alot. It builds up my confidence, I don't feel like I have stage fright - although I used to. Terrie is really lovely and every year we get to write our own script for everyone else to perform. When I am there I do not feel like I am at school, I feel more free to express myself. I would recommend it to everyone!"
Hannah Gauci: This evening we have been to the summer gala where the children have been performing short plays they have written, and directed themselves. It was lovely to see them given this freedom and they were all brimming with confidence. My son has been going to Act Out for nearly four years now. His confidence has grown, he’s made new friends and Act Out offers a safe space where he can be himself - whether that is as Gollum or the Sheriff of Nottingham!