All four of us at Push to Shove HQ cannot stress how important we think the arts is within our communities. Being drama kids ourselves that were brought up going to drama clubs and performing at school, to now running our own theatre company, we can’t explain how important arts experiences were to us growing up. Also, the majority of us either have taught in schools or currently teach at performing arts schools and we get to see first-hand how transformative the arts can be for young people in regards to their confidence and wellbeing. We therefore decided that outreach and workshops were going to play a fundamental part within our company.
Our first show Dracula opened our eyes to how we could possibly offer exciting and beneficial workshops to schools. As a company we believe that movement can communicate behaviours that are blurred through dialogue, so our work focuses on using the body as a narrative tool to express 'physical empathy' – a social skill that is becoming more and more overlooked due to our growing reliance on technology, especially from a younger age. We were able to provide the students opportunities to explore meaning and understanding through movement and physical interpretation, the basis of all our shows. We found immediately that students were fully engaging with the text and that they were analysing and deconstructing meaning in detail without ever really having to put pen to paper.
After several successful workshops, then came the excitement of realising that we can offer a variety of frameworks that all can be adapted to fit each individual school’s needs. Then came a long Between You and Me (BYAM) and as this show was made for young people, exploring how two life-long friends learn to cope when adult life threatens to separate them, we have found it provides a perfect platform to work with young people too. Our recent education pack was made with the hope that we can offer a wide variety of workshops focusing on physical theatre, devising and key aspects of the curriculum. Our company however has also massively benefited from working with young people. Workshops were fundamental in the development of BYAM as it was the experiences of real young people that helped us shape the dynamic between our two characters Dan and Jess. A youth group that we worked with opened up about their concerns about heading off to university and leaving their current friends as well as sharing their anxieties with us about how friendships change, develop or even fall apart. All of this helped us shape the show into what it is now and the young people helped us see our show and concept in a way that we hadn’t before.
Having recently ran some workshops in colleges and schools and receiving requests for bookings, we are so excited to see how this branch of our company develops and the ways in which it will benefit both us and the participants. Although it does have its challenges, we are constantly blown away by the exciting and rewarding opportunities that having a theatre company has brought us and working with schools and young people is definitely one of them.