Somerset Stories: Yeovil Youth Theatre

Yeovil Youth Theatre is a not-for-profit, inclusive training and performance-based theatre group, where young people with an interest in theatre have the opportunity to learn what it’s like to be part of a company at a minimal cost through acting, singing, dancing and workshops.

We spoke to chairman Karl Gill who told us how a £1,000 grant from The Somerset Fund helped the group through the ‘dark’ days.

“We’re a fully inclusive youth theatre group and any young person between 13 and 21 can join – you don’t need any particular skills, just an interest in musical theatre and performing arts. Everyone is welcome and we’ll train new members up and show them the ropes. There’s always something to do and take part in and all we ask is that you have a willingness to learn, participate, have fun and enjoy yourself.

Across the year we normally put on one small show in the spring and then a larger musical in the autumn which is usually at The Octagon Theatre in Yeovil. In March 2020, one week before our first show of the year was due to go on, we were shut down due to the pandemic. Since then we’ve been able to put on one small show, which was at the end of 2021. The main problem is that the majority of the time is spent on the rehearsals for shows, and we’ve had very little opportunity to do that over the last couple of years, due to the various lockdowns and restrictions that have been in place.

Youth theatre can be a starting block for a career – Sarah Parish, a well-known actress who has starred in many films and TV shows including Broadchurch, W1A and plays the leading role in Bancroft, attended Yeovil Youth Theatre as a child is now our honorary president. But it can also give young people such an enormous boost in confidence. We see so many of our members blossom and make friends for life through the youth theatre – and that’s really important.

Looking forward, we are now in the very early planning stages for a big show which will be put on at The Swan Theatre in September of this year.

We’re very grateful for our grant from The Somerset Fund, which we put towards buying costumes and the hire of the venue for our last show. The support makes such a difference to so many young people’s lives – it’s helping to make sure that we can continue to offer something that is affordable, because our membership fees are very low. Dance classes, for example, can be very expensive and families can’t always afford them.

Our only sources of income are those which we generate ourselves; our membership fees, income from any fundraising events and activities, and help from outside supporters or sponsors. In the future we would love to be more sustainable and be able to plan beyond our next show. Until we’ve sold the tickets we really don’t know if we have the funding to be able to put on the next show – there are a lot of upfront costs we need to find beforehand, so funding and support from grants like The Somerset Fund are crucial to us.”


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