Ignite Theatre is a free youth theatre company which produces original drama and works to build confidence in the young participants who face multiple challenges in life. It is the most ethnically diverse youth theatre in Scotland working with vulnerable children and young people who live in some of the most deprived areas of the city of Glasgow.
Ignite was founded by a group of young Asylum Seekers and Refugees along with Aileen Ritchie in 2010. They had been working together for a four-year period with grassroots community organisations to give young people a voice to push back against the negativity and racism which they had encountered and to have a voice in their community. Ten years on, that first generation have moved on to become board members and supporters and the theatre company has expanded and diversified to offer a safe haven and a voice to all children and young people in that community.
Now our young people face multiple challenges- from living in poverty, being a carer, facing bullying and rejection on the grounds of their gender identity or sexual orientation. We offer full training in the Arts, from the age of 6 to 25, with opportunities to attend theatre shows, do youth leadership training, go on residential retreats, weekly workshops, masterclasses, mentoring and develop skills to cope with the challenges which life can offer . Ignite is often seen as an ‘alternative family’ where young people have a safe space to get emotional support and advice. Many of our members have been with us for over 8 years.
2020 is our tenth anniversary and it's already turning out to be a very special year! We have been invited by Glasgow University to be part of a worldwide 3 year long project around the theme of how arts can contribute to conflict resolution.
Our involvement will be taking a group of 8 Ignite Members to the SAFE Festival (Southern African Festival for Children and Young People) in Harare, Zimbabwe in August 2020, to perform an Ignite piece and also to meet and connect with other young people from across Southern Africa.
We gained huge inspiration from a visit of Tawona Sithole and Chikuri Chikuri, artists from Zimbabwe to our Ardoch residential retreat in 2017. The roots which bind Scotland and Zimbabwe together run deep and the diversity of our membership and staff reflect that.
We have never been abroad with group members but now we feel that this is the right time to foster new connections in Zimbabwe. For some, it would be a return to their cultural roots- having moved to Scotland from Zimbabwe at a young age. For others, of Scottish heritage, it will be their first time out of the UK and gaining fresh insight into Scottish history through, seeing first hand, it's role in colonialism and the legacy which it has left within Zimbabwe.
In this trip, we will be focussing on individual development, youth leadership and the sharing of skills, how identity is formed through both the cultural landscape we inhabit and the heritage we know and understand. We will deliver workshops in Shona, Ndbele and English and empower a new generation of theatre makers - in both Scotland and Zimbabwe. It would be to realise one of the biggest ambitions the company has had since its formation.