UK's largest youth theatre festival comes to Ayr

150 budding performers from across Scotland and beyond filled the Gaiety Theatre in Ayr recently. 

The group of youngsters from 12 different youth theatre groups were in town for this year’s National Festival of Youth Theatre (NFYT) event. Working in conjunction with the Council and the theatre, the festival which ran from 7-10 July featured workshops, performances and social activities. Although this is the first time the festival has been to Ayr, organisers are hailing it a great success, so it will be back in 2019. The children and young people had a blast as they explored the world of performance arts with the experts giving them the benefit of their experience. ‘The Art of Improvised Comedy’ with Charles Hindley proved to be a big hit over the weekend. His troupe ‘The Men With Coconuts’ were voted the best free show at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe, so they have bags of talent. Improv is said to be one of the fastest growing performance crafts in the UK and Charles took the youngsters through their paces as they explored building a scene and getting the most out of their performance. 

Another exciting workshop was ‘An Intro to Puppetry with Daniel Livingston’. Daniel is a multi-skilled theatre artist who has worked across the UK and internationally. Those attending his workshop worked on their own lifelike creations, learning about everything from the animation of everyday objects, to table-top puppets. NFYT is the only opportunity for Scotland’s youth theatre participants to come together, discover a shared passion and develop as artists, audience members and creative thinkers. With an emphasis on inclusion, education and collaboration, NFYT aims to remove barriers, teach valuable life skills and provide extraordinary new experiences for young people from 5 to 25 years old. Councillor Brian McGinley, Economic Development, Tourism and Leisure Portfolio Holder for South Ayrshire Council said: “This was a great experience for the youngsters, not only were they learning from the experts, but it was an opportunity to gain confidence and make new friends too. I am hopeful that even more creative young people in South Ayrshire can get involved next time round.” Jeremy Wyatt, Chief Executive, Ayr Gaiety Partnership said: “We first discussed bringing NFYT to Ayr almost three years ago, so it was great to see everyone’s hard work pay off so well. All the young people were incredibly good to work with, and our Gaiety Young Company got the festival off to a great start. Around 60 of our staff and volunteers worked over the weekend and I know they all found the experience very rewarding. I’m grateful to South Ayrshire Council for agreeing to partner with us in hosting the festival from the start – and I’m looking forward to an even better event in 2019” Kenny McGlashan, Chief Executive Officer, Youth Theatre Arts Scotland, said: "We were overwhelmed by the welcome the National Festival of Youth Theatre received from the residents of Ayr and would like to thank the venues and audiences for creating such an amazing atmosphere for our youth groups. “Festival productions included performances by local groups from Ayr, Ardrossan, Kilmarnock and Largs and we are proud that the National Festival of Youth Theatre was able to invest in both local youth groups and events contractors when bringing the event to the region". 

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