Rotherham’s Young People Take Back Their Town With Street Theatre Performance

By May 3, 2015

Theatre & Dance. Leeds.

Images courtesy of

Images courtesy of

The young people of Rotherham took back their town this weekend, showing they are more than just a negative news story with a festival of arts and street performance.

Funded by Arts Council England, ‘Taking Back the Town’ was created by Chol Theatre and saw actors, dancers, opera singers and artists take to the streets of Rotherham on Saturday lunchtime.

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Over 75 of the town’s young people took part to kick off Rotherham Arts Festival – a two-month festival that will see over 25 performances across the town throughout May and June.

The performance, which was watched by hundreds of spectators, came from The Mix, a group within the theatre that was set up by, for and with Rotherham’s young people in reaction to well-publicised scandals within the local council and police force.

The Mix seeks to change the perceptions of Rotherham and document the negative attention that the town has received through the eyes of young people.

Susan Burns, Director at Chol Theatre said: “We were so proud to bring ‘Taking Back the Town’ to the streets of Rotherham this weekend.

“All too often Rotherham is in the newspapers for the wrong reasons and we wanted to address this – we have a town full of creative young people and the arts is a wonderful way for them to express themselves.

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“By encouraging them to share their feelings on all of the negative attention we are showing the town to be a strong community that is coming back fighting. They have worked hard over the last three months to bring this show together – writing scripts, songs and staging everything.”

Young people aged 11 to 25 years old started work on the performance in February, including local Youth Parliament member Tom Jackson, who got involved in the project after joining The Mix for a planning session.

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The performance will started at Rotherham Youth Centre Myplace and then made its way towards All Saints Square.

Once at the Square, audience members were taken on the journey’s of four main characters. Travelling around the sides of Rotherham Minster the performance continued on to the Minster Gardens on Church Street then the Imperial Buildings, eventually wrapping up in the Old Market Gallery. An exhibition of participant’s art was on display at the Gallery.

The afternoon included audience participation during the first dance show – “Wake Me Up”, dramatic scenes running simultaneously and individual music performances. It ended with a recital of Figaro’s Aria followed by the show stopping “Our Town” sung by all of the shows performers.

Rotherham’s Parliamentary Labour candidate Sarah Champion and Rotherham’s Mayor, John Foden, both attended the event.

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Sarah Champion commented: “This performance is a testament to the strength and resilience of our town’s young people.

“As a community we are still recovering from last year’s scandal but projects like this prove that by working together we can create a town that we can all be proud of. The young performers have shown determination, dedication and creativity.”

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