Teenagers angry about changes to youth theatre programme at Hornchurch theatre

Teenagers have hit out against the Queen’s Theatre over plans to scrap their young performance group and to replace it with a resident youth theatre company.

The group, who form part of the QSenior based at the theatre in Billet Lane, Hornchurch are angry over the decision to end the group in September.

One of the members of the group, Megan Withers said: “Everyone in the group is really upset with what they are doing because if that group goes it means that there is not a lot for us to do and its terrible to just get rid of it after 10 years.”

The decision to end the theatre group means that the members, who are aged from 14 to 19 are working on their last production which is due to be performed in August.

The theatre then has plans to open a replacement group which will be a resident youth theatre company called Cut 2.

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But not all of the current 35 active members of QSenior will be able to get spaces in the new theatre group as it has a limit of just 25 spaces.

Megan said: “They have said that the whole point of the new group is that it will offer better opportunities for people who want to pursue it as a career.

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“But the whole point of the group is that it was like amateur dramatics so that people could just join up as a hobby, these changes will just make it into a regular theatre group and it won’t be as special.”

Staff at the Queen’s Theatre argue that the new youth theatre company will be a more focused training programme to nurture the artistic potential of older teenagers who are committed to theatre.

The Q Senior group was set up at the theatre ten years ago to give teenagers the chance to learn new skills, base work on practitioners or established playwrights and to create their own original theatre.

They perform two shows a year at the theatre,

The group have now set up a online facebook campaign to save the Q Senior group and to run it alongside the new group.

A spokesman for the Queen’s Theatre said: “We understand there are concerns amongst Q Senior group members about these changes in the senior youth programme. We have discussed these new developments with them.

“We really don’t want anyone to be confused about what is happening or to be unduly nervous about the auditions, so we’re more than happy to speak again to anyone with worries or questions to clarify the situation.

“As the area’s only professional producing Theatre, we feel it is our duty to pass on our industry expertise to the most talented, dedicated local young people, who may use this training to develop careers of their own in the world of theatre and entertainment.

“Cut 2 will be a long overdue avenue through which we will achieve our aim to help create a new generation of theatre professionals.

“But to be able to successfully deliver this scheme, we had to make some difficult decisions. Due to financial, staffing and logistical constraints, we can only offer 25 places a year on this enhanced new programme.

“Cut 2 is part of our wider Q Youth Theatre programme, which gives open opportunities to hundreds of children aged from 4 – 13 to get involved in, learn about and experience the joy of theatre.

“Depending on funds and on how the scheme develops, there may be the possibility of creating more places in Cut 2 in the future.”

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