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Young people from the Saturday Citizens group in a park. Two of them are in the foreground laughing, and all are wearing purple Citizens Theatre t-shirts.

How our young people kept creating during COVID-19

During the pandemic, many teenagers and young adults struggled with the impact of restrictions as their lives were put on hold. For the young people involved in our Participate programmes, the pandemic isolated them from friends and family, and made it difficult for them to engage with their creativity and love of theatre.  

Like everyone else, we turned to online spaces during this time. Despite the distance and isolation, these young people embraced the opportunity to create art in new ways, from short films reflecting the reality of life in a pandemic to a horror-fueled radio play and a fun, conversational podcast.  

Devised in Zoom calls and socially isolated meetings in public places, these projects offered the young people in our Participate programmes the opportunity to explore these issues while maintaining their connection with the Citz, each other, and their creative selves.  

New Shoots – Young Company

The Young Co is the Citizens Theatre’s youth drama group for people aged 18-22 who share a passion for making theatre. It offers opportunities in acting, writing, and devising plays, allowing participants to explore different aspects of creativity to find what they love.  

During the pandemic, the group created New Shoots, a series of short films exploring how lockdown restrictions affected young people’s lives and mental health. 

Guided by Neil Packham and Louise Brown from the Citz Participate Team, Young Co. members worked in small groups, writing, directing and acting in their own original films. 

Inspired by their current circumstances, the digital shorts explore everyday situations and challenges in offbeat, honest and personal ways. These brief insights were made to resonate with young viewers, bringing a smile, brightening their day, and showing them that they are not alone in their struggles.  

Watch all the short films in the YouTube playlist:

Cupid, Draw Back Your Bow – WAC

WAC (We Are Citizens) is Scotland’s first care experienced theatre ensemble for young adults. Over the years, the Ensemble has grown as a group of friends and collaborators, creating a range of theatre productions, short films and radio plays.  

During lockdown, the WAC Ensemble continued to meet regularly on Zoom. Following a collaborative process involving collecting audio and photographs from their daily walks and using them as a basis for group improvisation, the company eventually landed on the idea of a horror radio play, inspired by their love of horror films.  

Playwright and Director Martin Travers explains why they decided on this format: 

We chose a style because the ongoing COVID 19 restrictions meant that a traditional play format wasn’t possible. I am so glad we did choose to work with human voices alone. It opened up a dark and brutal world that just wouldn’t work on stage.”  

The result was Cupid, Draw Back Your Bow – a terrifying tale about a camping trip gone hellishly wrong. 

They worked with Martin to create their own characters, and then devised a series of scenes involving these. Then, following a series of online recording sessions – facilitated by Sound Designer Rikki Trainor – the group was able to meet in Cathkin Park for a safe and socially distanced final recording session.  

A group of people standing in a circle in a public park. Four microphones are arranged in the centre.
Four members of WAC posing for the camera in a park.
A young person reading from a script while standing in front of a mic outdoors in a park.

Facilitator Colin White said about the process: 

“Working mid-lockdown, in our bedrooms, cupboards or anywhere we could find creative calm, encouraged us collectively to generate work in ways we never thought possible. Weekly rehearsals via Zoom offered an anchor in our week, a welcome distraction from our altered routines.” 

Listen to the chilling radio play on SoundCloud:

Cupid, Draw Back Your Bow

Cupid, Draw Back Your Bow is recommended for ages 15+. Scenes of violence, drug references and strong language. 

Saturday Citizens Podcast – Saturday Citizens

Saturday Citizens is our drama group for learning disabled and neurodivergent young people aged 14-19 who love theatre. During the pandemic, they continued to meet regularly over Zoom, and conducted several projects, including participating in the Positive Stories for Negative Times project and creating an original podcast.  

Over three episodes, the Saturday Citizens podcast explores the lives and interests of our Saturday Citizens participants: 

  • In Episode 1, the Saturday Citizens introduce us to some very special guests, we hear about the group’s musical interests and recommendations for the week and we hear Matilda’s new single. 
  • In Episode 2, the Saturday Citizens raise awareness about living with disabilities and mental health issues, the group discuss their musical interests and recommendations for the week, and we hear a spoken word piece from Lloyd. 
  • In Episode 3, we hear from one of the longest standing members in the group about how being part of Saturday Citizens has been positive in his life, David shares one of his amazing recipes, the group talk about their musical interests and recommendations for the week, and we hear a new song written and performed by Rahul. 

Listen to every episode of the Saturday Citizens podcast on SoundCloud:

Saturday Citizens Podcast

Positive Stories for Negative Times

Positive Stories for Negative Times is an international participatory project run by WonderFools, a Scottish arts charity dedicated to working with young people to tell stories and improve communities.  

Saturday Citizens participated in the second season of the project, which took place during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was a time of anxiety and confusion for everyone, in which the future of the arts and of community groups seemed particularly uncertain.  

Within this context, this project championing positivity and self-expression was an exceptional opportunity for the young learning-disabled people in the group to reflect on their experiences and find joy in creativity, despite the restrictions imposed by lockdowns.  

Saturday Citizens worked with filmmaker Kiana Kalantar-Hormozi, using Thanks for Nothing by The PappyShow with Lewis Hetherington as the basis for their film. Thanks for Nothing explores what it means to be thankful in this world we live in today. It’s a mix of games, challenges and exercises allowing the group to tell their own stories, in their own way. 

The result was a mix of online and in-person activities which allowed for the young company to connect with each other and with their creative selves, all while remaining safe. They wrote thank you letters to each other and acted out scenes on Zoom from their bedrooms. Finally, in March 2022, our Saturday Citizens were able to come together in person for the first time in two years, performing an outdoors group movement piece at Glasgow Green.  

Watch Thanks for Nothing, the film created by Saturday Citizens as the culmination of their project:

Thanks for Nothing – A Film by Saturday Citizens

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Four people bowing. In the foreground audience members are sitting watching the performance.

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