Beth Knight is a director and facilitator, who works with young people and communities to help bring their stories to the stage. She has been working with our Young Company 17-25 group to help them to devise their own theatre piece, The Sh*t Between Us.
Hi Beth, can you tell us a bit about your career so far?
I am a director and facilitator.
All of my work is co-creation, so that means that I make new work in creation with a community. Usually I work with young people, telling their stories or retelling stories in a way that gives their perspective. Sometimes I work with communities, who have a particular story to tell, for example, I have worked with nurses to tell stories about the NHS.
Essentially, I work with people who might not be professional artists to tell and discover stories that might not have been on stage before.
What does your role as Young Company Director entail?
I am working with the brilliant Young Company 17-25 here at Storyhouse and helping them to devise the story that they want to tell together as their show. During the devising process, I’m not only a director, but also a dramaturge and a curator of their ideas.
My role involves trying to understand them as young people, their voices, their interests and their practice as artists, and trying to create a show that sums up some of what they want to say about the world, and a structure and format for them to do it in.
I started by asking them what made them really angry or really joyful. It’s a good place to start because I think that theatre should be about the things that we care about. From that, we narrowed it down into seven themes that we wanted to explore, including women’s bodies in society, gender identity, the government, the climate crisis, the importance of self-expression and creativity, how young people feel about control and power, and empathy.
What do you most enjoy about working with young people?
Work with young people, for me, has become the most immediate, especially over the last two years. Young people are some of the most impacted people by the pandemic, in terms of the mental health crisis that we have at the moment.
It always feels deeply political to be making work with young people because a lot of the time, we’re told young people’s voices don’t matter and aren’t important. Despite all of that, young people in this current generation are some of the most inspiring, activism-driven, empathetic people, who really can imagine a world for better. If you give a platform to their voices and tell them that they do matter, that can only make the world a more hopeful place.
Do you have any advice for young people wanting to work in the theatre industry?
I think that you have to make your own work. Sometimes this industry can feel a little bit unkind or a bit “gatekeeper-ry”. I think buildings like Storyhouse are brilliant at opening up the doors in a really meaningful way so, as much as you can, use resources like community buildings.
It’s always going to be difficult but just keep making your own work and keep knocking down doors and find those networks that inspire you.