Many great things happen once a year – Christmas, birthdays and Wimbledon are just a few. But for Youth Theatre members there exists an equally important occurrence: SUMMER SCHOOL. Those words send warm shivers down the spines of the eager young actors. It makes us feel a mixture of excitement and anticipation. What could the theme be? Who will be the guest practitioner? What exercises will Brian make us do in the voice class? All of these questions (and more) will cross the minds of us young Masque members prior to our Summer School but we all know, whatever the answers, we will have a great deal of fun.
Whereas in previous years the Summer School has been a week-long extravaganza, this year it has been shortened to a concentrated three-day affair that will focus on the workshops and exercises offered to industry professionals that Ursula Wright always manages to find for us. Also, much to my delight, we will be returning to the fantastic Isham Studios of the University of Northampton. For me it is a unique experience to be in a self contained studio atmosphere as opposed to the more vast NSB (not that there is anything wrong with NSB, it’s just I go there every day and it is nice to get a break from the place).
The structure of the week is usually very similar, year on year. On the Monday morning, after paying our bargain of a fee, we partake in a session of introductory activities. These range in style, content and complexity but are always a good laugh and a great way to start the week off. Then (after the all-important lunch break) we begin with our first of three workshops from our “resident” experts in one of three areas: voice, movement and singing. Whilst all three are completely different they all offer a great chance to hone skills in (often) ignored areas. This year these workshops will be the main body of the course and we will finish them on Tuesday afternoon before out guest professional meets with us on the Wednesday which, of course, will be another excellent day.
But aside from the content of the sessions, what makes the Summer School so special is the group who every year finds the energy and enthusiasm to take part. Another important aspect is the fact that the course is open to non-Youth Theatre members which makes things more diverse if a little less familiar at the start of the week. However we are always welcoming and all external participants are quickly integrated into the group.
If you are reading this and thinking “I’d like to try that” or “I know someone who would be interested” then make sure that you act on that thought. I cannot recommend this fantastic experience more and it is certainly a great chance. This will be my fourth summer school with Masque and I feel that the fact that so many of us return year after year is a testament to the superb quality that Ursula and the other professionals offer. This is a highlight of many of our summers and an unmissable event which we intend to continue to be part of. So put away the sun-cream and beach towels and grab your all-black clothing and join in.By Euan Kitson