New group formed for youngsters at the Non Verbal Youth Theatre

A little over a year ago the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds announced a new partnership with GeeWizz Charitable Foundation who would be supporting their new Non Verbal Youth Theatre groups from 2023 to 2025.

As the theatre embarks on their second year of providing these new groups and the first year of GeeWizz funding, they reflect on the successes of the past year, announce a new name for the groups – SENsory Youth Theatre and introduce a brand-new group for four to seven-year-olds.

Since launching in September 2021, a total of 19 young people who are neurodivergent, learning disabled or identify as having other sensory needs have participated in SENsory Youth Theatre across a total of 58 sessions and the theatre practitioners who facilitate the groups have seen remarkable milestones achieved.

The funding provided by GeeWizz, who support children and young adults in Suffolk and Norfolk who suffer from life-threatening conditions, a disability or cancer, ensures that these groups will be available for the children of Suffolk until 2025. 

Aileen Belsberg, GeeWizz CEO, is looking forward to what the future holds for these groups.

She said: “GeeWizz are proud to be supporting Theatre Royal’s SENsory Youth Theatre programme, one which provides local SEN children the opportunity to enjoy creative play and learning. Made possible by the Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk Legacy Auction and many generous supporters, this project is a labour of love for all those involved. A unique programme in West Suffolk, which I am excited to watch grow in the years to come.”

SENsory Youth Theatre is an extension of the theatre’s already successful Youth Theatre programme and support young people who are learning disabled, neurodivergent or identify as having other sensory needs. These interactive sessions build their confidence, help them to make new friends and encourage participation in creative play. By leaning into a mostly non-verbal delivery style from the facilitators, this allows all young people to take ownership of activities facilitated by Theatre Royal’s team of practitioners and express themselves within a creative process that is accessible to their creative differences.

Theatre Royal’s head of creative learning, David Whitney, is excited about the positive impact these groups have.

He said: ”SENsory Youth Theatre is some of the most important work we deliver at Theatre Royal. It’s really vital that we provide accessible and inclusive creative learning opportunities that are not elitist, that meet the participants needs and the level they are currently working at. We have seen so many people flourish from a programme that is all about embracing people’s differences.

“One of the highlights for me is when at the end of the year we do our celebration and bring in a company to perform for and with the participants. The Junk Orchestra this year were a delight and it was great to see a participatory led performance by a group of young people who often get underestimated and absolutely owned that space.”

Booking Information

In addition to the two groups already in existing, one for eight to 12 and another for ages 13 to 18, the new year will see the addition of a third group for ages four to seven.

Age four to seven, Saturday, 10am to 10.40am, at Theatre Royal.

Age eight to 12, Tuesday, 4pm to 4.40pm, at Theatre Royal

Age 13 to 18, Tuesday, 5pm to 5.40pm, at Theatre Royal

To register interest participants should email enagagement@theatreroyal.org

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