Grantham Journal Big Interview: ‘Join our youth theatre group and enjoy the Fringe benefits!’

Youngsters take part in a PerfAct Youth Theatre Group session.
Youngsters take part in a PerfAct Youth Theatre Group session.
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A Grantham theatre group for young people is looking forward to taking part in the Edinburgh Fringe next year. The PerfAct Youth Theatre Group is calling on youngsters to get involved in an exciting project which professional drama coach and PerfAct founder Fiona Kimberley-Pope calls a “real adventure”. She talked to the Journal about the Edinburgh project and her theatre group.

What is involved in the Edinburgh project?

Fiona Kimberley-Pope founded the PerfAct Youth Theatre Group. Photo: Maddie Lainchbury Photography

Fiona Kimberley-Pope founded the PerfAct Youth Theatre Group. Photo: Maddie Lainchbury Photography

I am working on a brand new social enterprise project with talented local film maker Callum Burn, of Tin Hat Productions. We already have some fantastic ideas, but this project will be all about the young people who take part, as we want everyone to have ownership of it, and be creatively involved throughout. This will be a real adventure, and there will be something to suit everyone – including technical work, development, research, promotion and, of course, learning the theatre skills that will be needed to create the final work. We will then perform live at the Edinburgh Fringe, which is the biggest arts festival in the world and is absolutely incredible. No previous theatre experience is needed, we just want to hear from young people with loads of enthusiasm and a commitment to help us make this happen. If you are over the age of 14 and you are interested in taking this project to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival next summer, please get in touch. This is a great opportunity to develop new skills and confidence and to make some amazing new friends.

How did the group get started and what was the idea behind it?

PerfAct came about in July 2000 when, having completed three years at drama school and trying to establish a career, I decided to move back home as living in 
London was just a struggle. After coming back I hooked up with an old college friend and we looked at starting a business through The Prince’s Trust. We got funding and support and initially started doing Saturday classes and also took on a group at the arts centre. I ended up 
going alone when my 
colleague moved away. 
Originally, the idea was to provide accessible youth 
theatre to children in the town as at the time there 
really was nothing. And it had been like that for me growing up, too.

You have taken the group to Edinburgh before?

Yes. In 2006 and 2007 we 
ventured up to the 
Edinburgh Fringe. Nothing made me more proud than seeing my group wandering down the Royal Mile totally in role and performing for the thronging crowds on the streets of Edinburgh.

What are your ambitions for the group in the future?

Other than heading to 
Edinburgh again, my ambitions for the group are to establish an innovative and dynamic youth theatre that will produce collaborative young theatre makers who are a complete part of the process from concept to creation to performance and beyond.

n The PerfAct Youth Project Theatre Group is an informal drama group for children and teenagers, which meets at St Mary’s Hall, North Parade, on Saturdays, 2pm-4pm. Information: call 07801 354641 or email popef@uni.coventry.ac.uk