To mark their approaching 10 year anniversary and give themselves a real challenge, Everyday Arts recently made its first foray into promenade theatre . Working with Windsor Girls’ and Boys’ School students, the company produced Strive, which was devised to take the audience into the world of today’s teenagers, shedding a funny yet poignant light on the trials of school life. The audience left the comfort of their stage-facing seats and moved around the school. From classroom to library, from drama studio to academic council meetings, the audience found themselves dropped in at the deep end of school life and nose to nose with the young, talented cast.
The production celebrated individuality, differences and acceptance, and also addressed the issue of bullying. The character that seemed to resonate most with the majority of audience members was James Murray, whose real life school struggles provided the inspiration for the piece.
‘School isn’t easy for everyone’ says James, 15. ‘I hope the audiences took from Strive a realisation of what school is really like, quite often it is misinterpreted in TV programmes or the news.’
‘I think there was quite a lot of me in my character. My school life might seem quite depressing. I was very vulnerable to verbal abuse and fake friends, but I consider myself very lucky to take part in Strive. I have put all that behind me. Everyday Arts has a brilliant approach to creating.’
James describes Strive as ‘an accurate portrayal of school life’ and elaborates, ‘instead of using stereotypes, we based our characters on ourselves, creating realistic characters you actually see in school. The main themes varied: misfits, relationships and bullying, but the play was about kids.’
Regarding his involvement with Everyday Arts (who also run the Green Room Project, an alternate provision for school refusers) James said ‘I think it’s important for students to belong to something, it helps people avoid feelings of loneliness and depression. It gave me a chance to meet new people, and spend more time with people I already knew. Strive definitely boosted my confidence.
@EverydayArtsUK is a #youthcharity that inspires kids to discover their brilliance through a unique learning programme of theatre, dance, film and #alternativeeducation. @DerrenBrown is our patron. We pride ourselves in our #GreenRoomProject, which is set up for #SchoolRefusers and children with #statements of special educational needs #SENs.