SPY network – new theatre group for young talent to launch

IT was Noel Coward who advised Mrs Worthington not to put her daughter on the stage.

‘The profession is overcrowded and the struggle is pretty tough,’ suggested the venerable Coward.

It’s not a view subscribed to by Rebecca Wood or Saddleworth Players who are collaborating on an exciting new theatrical experience for the Parish’s talented and promising stage talents.

Rebecca Wood (right) with Conner Perry (left) and Flynn Eade

Their venture to be launched in the New Year is SPY Theatre (Saddleworth Players Youth).

SPY will be run by Rebecca who has been in charge of Act One Theatre School in Saddleworth for 18 years.

But she has been looking for further opportunities for the pupils graduating from her children’s dance and drama classes.

Many wanted to carry on their training and performing but were struggling to find something suitable locally.

Rebecca approached Saddleworth Players with the idea of hands on training in the heart of a local theatre.

It proved perfect timing as the group – based at Delph’s Millgate Arts Centre – had discussed opening a youth theatre.

“We have been developing the theatre over the last few years with more shows from Saddleworth Live, the new changing rooms, a refurbished auditorium and stage, and new sound and lighting equipment,” explained Players’ actor and director, Verity Mann.

“Saddleworth Players now needs to focus on developing the next generation in the creative community so we’re thrilled that Rebecca (who is a Saddleworth Player herself) will be leading SPY.”

Rebecca explained: “Young people can join SPY to learn new skills and perfect old one in a real working theatre in Saddleworth.

“We’ll focus toward performing an exhilarating piece of contemporary theatre in Spring and a Christmas production in December.

“Bring your creativity, energy and an open mind, as we take you on an exciting journey from the rehearsal room to centre stage.

“All levels of skill and experience are welcome. Each week you will be inspired and guided as you develop experience in stage craft, theatre-making, improvisation and script work and also lighting, costume and sound design in a fun and friendly group.”

Conner Perry, one of the founding members of SPY, said: “Act One really boosted my confidence and was a huge part of my childhood.

“It was a shame to reach a point where I was too old for a child’s musical theatre group but too young for an adult group.

“I’m looking forward to the new SPY Youth Theatre group where I can continue to surround myself with likeminded people of a similar age.”

Covid restrictions have slowed down the process but it is hoped to launch in-person classes from January for ages 14-18 years, extending to age 21 once restrictions are eased.

Alongside the practical training, young people will also have an opportunity to gain nationally recognised qualifications and UCAS points for University applications by undertaking an Arts Award or LAMDA exams in Acting.

Saddleworth Festival of the Arts are supporting SPY with a grant to make it financially possible.

For more information on this exciting new project and to book a taster session, visit the Millgate Arts Centre Facebook page or the website: www.millgateartscentre.co.uk

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