Young Storyhouse: creativity in lockdown

Since 2017, Young Storyhouse‘s groups of 14-25 year olds have formed friendships, gained real-life arts industry experience and built on their skills, at Storyhouse.  
They have undertaken creative projects that have included devising their own pieces of theatre and film, from writing and performing to lighting and filming, organised film and music festivals, devised themed library events for families, hosted panel discussions to raise awareness of key social issues, and much more.  
In March 2020, as Young Storyhouse was gearing up for a year full of performances, festivals and events, Storyhouse closed suddenly as part of the national lockdownThe groups could no longer meet for their regular sessions, and the projects that Young Storyhouse had planned for 2020 were cast into doubt.  
“The building was closed, but it felt more important than ever to provide these young people with a space to connect and create, and a platform for their voices. We moved all of our group sessions online straight away and worked from there.” – Hayley, Young Storyhouse Manager

As lockdown continued, Young Storyhouse began to develop brand new ways to create together, from their individual homes. In a response to the global crisis, they were motivated by an urge to come together, to celebrate, and to support one another, as well as to make a record of this extraordinary time.

Here are some of the highlights:


Young Storyhouse Takeover

Young Storyhouse Takeover is an annual weekend in which, after weeks of masterclasses from leadings arts professionals on how to organise and manage a festival, Young Storyhouse create their own. Taking over the entire Storyhouse building, they fill its stages and spaces with music, dance, performance and visual art, all from young people.

This year’s Takeover was due to take place in June 2020. As it became clear that a festival at Storyhouse wouldn’t be possible, Young Storyhouse set about building an online festival, with Storyhouse digital channels becoming the ‘stages’ for video performances.

“We realised that Young Storyhouse Takeover moving online meant that for the first time, we could showcase young talent from around the world! In such a hard time, we wanted to celebrate young artists.”
Alice, Young Storyhouse

On 6 June 2020, Young Storyhouse broadcast Young Storyhouse Takeover completely online, with performers from as far afield as America and Palestine taking part. The day was split into three sessions: Sunrise, Uplift and Sunsetwith the aim of soothing and lifting the spirits of the audience. 
Enjoy some of the highlights here.

Coronavirus Time Capsule

Storyhouse worked together with Company Threea north London-based theatre company empowering teenagers, on Coronavirus Time Capsule. The project captured the lives of teenagers over eight weeks of lockdown in a week-by-week video response to the pandemic 
“This is a record of this time. We are a group of teenagers, stuck in our homes, for the next few weeksor months. No one knows what’s going to happen. We’re going to film ourselves every week, to make sure remember what it was like.” – Jess, Young Storyhouse

Watch the whole Coronavirus Time Capsule here.

Mental Health in Lockdown Project

Over the summer of 2020, Young Storyhouse’s Young Company worked on a Mental Health in Lockdown project. The group held weekly workshops and decided on four specific conversations that they felt were crucial to young people during lockdown. They invited four experts to join their sessions and discuss these topics.  
“The four topics we really wanted to talk about were The Impact of Lockdown (on mental health in young people)The Future (careers, training and the world post-pandemic)Self-Care (stereotypes, caring for yourself and personal struggles) and How To Be A Good Listener (supporting others).  – Billie-Jo, Young Company 
After these important conversations, the young people wrote individual spoken word pieces in responseIn lieu of a physical performance, the group had video masterclass from professional filmmaker (and former member of Young Storyhouse) Alex Howeand then filmed themselves in their homes, performing their pieces.  
You can watch the spoken word pieces and panel talks here.

In On The Act Podcast

In On The Act is a brand new podcast created by Young Storyhouse’s Young Programmers. Keen to gain insight into the arts industry but frustrated by lockdown restrictions hampering not only their group but possibly their futures in the arts, the group’s aim is to illuminate the world of theatre and delve into its response to the pandemic. 

We are the Young Programmers of Storyhouse! For the last few months, we’ve been meeting virtually to produce a podcast series that we’ve named In On The Act. We talk about how the arts have impacted us and what it means to us as young peopleWe’ll take you on a journey from backstage to onstage as we interview creatives about how they’re staying motivated. We hope to inspire you!” Young Programmers

Listen to In On The Act here.

1. Creativity in Lockdown 

A discussion on how to stay productive and active during these uncertain times as we’re stuck indoors.Join us as we talk to some of our Young Storyhouse creatives and find out how they have been keeping themselves busy during lockdown. 

  1. Backstage in the Spotlight

In this episode we will shine a spotlight on the backstage world and show just how much work goes into putting on a performance. In Episode 2, you will learn about a variety of backstage roles and hear an exclusive interview with members of Storyhouse’s key backstage team. 

  1. Onstage in the Spotlight

In support of all the creatives whose hard work is in need of appreciation right now, we delve into the onstage world of theatre and take a look at some of the glamorous jobs and roles that go into putting on a show, talking to some of Storyhouse’s team to give you a firsthand perspective of what life really is like in the spotlight. 

  1. Black Excellence

Celebrating and discussing inspirational artists, authors and actors and their wonderful work that has been produced over the years. If you are looking for some recommendations on books, theatre productions or materials, this is the place for you. 

  1. Theatre at a Distance

In this episode we’ll to discuss how members of the Storyhouse community interacted and overcame creative difficulties during lockdown. Listen as we discuss how to find motivation, start new projects and the importance of keep your identity. Join us as we talk to some inspiring members of the Storyhouse family. 

  1. The Digital Revolution

Streaming, streaming and more streaming can only mean one thing: the digital renaissance of theatre has arrived! Tune in as we discuss how lockdown has changed the way we consume theatre, and what that means for the future of Storyhouse.

Stay tuned for more Young Storyhouse in Lockdown projects coming soon!

“Very quickly, we discovered and developed ways supporting young people and helping them to create online, that have allowed us to reach new young people in a different way. This has meant we could involve young people that would not have been part of Young Storyhouse before. We’ll continue to use these even when things start to get back to normal.” 
Hayley, Young Storyhouse Manager

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