This week I have been running some workshops for professional artists at part of DIY8, My aim was to mix cabaret or variety artists with academic and live artists to generate communication, ideas and share skills. I chose to run this workshops in a small theatre near my home called Camden Peoples Theatre (CPT),  I have a very special place in my heart for this space as it was witness to the first time I ever performed.

Back in the 2000, I was recently expelled from school and was looking to fill my time. Camden at that point were running 'Summer Universities' - these were free, week long courses that were open to under 25's. I applied with my friend 'Big Alan' to CPT's youth theatre because "I liked singing" and it was the course that was furthest away in the borough - exciting. When I arrived I was greeted by lefty long haired queers, middle class rebels and university arty types that were producing new risk taking work. The course was well received and CPT continued to run our youth theatre outside of the Summer University.

Aside from showing me that rolling around the floor in jam is a job and you should be paid for it, it also demonstrated that theatre, performance, live art or "I like singing" didnt need to be on a stage, in a theatre or adhere to rules - things that are very much still apart of my mantra. An example of a performance we created was titled 'The Zoo' - audience members were led into a basement, blindfolded and subjected to 'System of a Down' while we flicked water in their faces. After these acts of torture we exited up a series of steps and waited until the audience got bored and followed, as they creeped up the darken staircase we took Polaroids of them, at the top of the stairs they we led into the light to find chalk drawn bodies (the kind you see in films), the Polaroids that were taken were laid on these.

Today when I asked one of the performers to find a space to perform a piece she had devised in the workshops she chose those darkened stairs. To my surprise I was confronted with my 15yr old hand writing in chalk, my experiences at CPT flashed before me and I realized how worried I was at 15 of being a fat poof that didn't fit in, it also made me realize how important the youth theatre was in developing my confidence, politic and career.

'I'M HUNGRY' - not much has changed in 10 years?!

Thank you CPT.  X


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