A NEW drama company that seeks to transform students' lives in
London schools is being launched this month. Besides performing,
the young company members will organise workshops and
"A lot of education companies use actors in their 20s and 30s,
pretending to be young people at risk" says Paul Forster, education
director of the company, Intermission Theatre In Education (ITIE).
"We've got [real] young people at risk, or who were at risk, going
through this transformation that others can immediately connect
ITIE is the education arm of Intermission Youth Theatre (IYT),
which has a long history of working with marginalised young
people. IYT, in turn, grew out of the Revd Rob Gillion's
artistic faith community Intermission, based at St Saviour's,
"When I was the Bishop of Kensington's Officer of Evangelism, I
was asked to come and look at St Saviour's. When I got here, it was
a shell. So we sold half to a developer, and with the money we put
The name "Intermission", Fr Gillion says, "reminds you that
we need a space in a busy city to just be. So this church should be
an oasis. Also, because I was an actor and theatre director, and
Janine [his wife] is an actress, we have a passion for theatre. We
thought that to combine theatre and the church would be an exciting
Intermission, now officially a Fresh Expression of church, has
been at St Saviour's since 2001. It is a community of Christian
performers, writers, and artists, committed to deepening their
understanding of God through involvement in the arts and media. The
building has been renovated to include a kitchen and lounge area.
It has a chapel and a worship space, which doubles as a performance
space. Since its formation, Janine Gillion has worked there
full-time, while Fr Gillion became Rector of Holy Trinity, Sloane
The youth theatre, IYT, was formed in 2008, managed by Mrs
Gillion. "We thought: we've got such talent around: why don't we
create our own professional theatre company?" Mr Gillion says. "And
that's when Darren came into the mix."
Darren Raymond, the artistic director of IYT, first met Fr
Gillion at a conference about the part played by poetry in prison.
Mr Raymond had served a prison sentence, and while in prison had
begun training with the London Shakespeare Workout Prison
After taking a production of Othello to St Saviour's,
he began working with Fr Gillion, and was offered the post of
artistic director of IYT.
"Shakespeare and drama had such an impact in my life," Mr
Raymond says. "Then, ultimately, I came to realise that Christ had
the main impact in my life, and he worked through these avenues to
engage me, and to bring me close to him. I wanted to replicate that
for these young people."
IYT works with marginalised young people, and mixes young
offenders and young people at risk. It uses Shakespeare plays to
help the actors unlock contemporary issues, and possibly set them
on a new path.
Mr Raymond begins by holding workshops on the chosen play. These
run for several months before he introduces the actual text - using
improvisation to create a hybrid of Shakespeare's language and that
of the company.
Dandave Roache, a company member, believes that this encourages
a sense of ownership. "The opportunity to improvise that Darren
gives us is a huge responsibility."
Reworking and retitling the plays is a way of putting these
young people alongside a writer who is traditionally seen as
difficult and boring.
"Julius Caesar [Wasted] is the ultimate knife
crime, and Romeo and Juliet [Verona Road] speaks
about gang culture," Mr Gillion says. "In our last show,
Othello [Ring of Envy], we transported the action
to a boxing ring, and focused on social media, jealousy, and how
all these rumours can get spread around and cause disaster for
these young people."
THE object of IYT is to transform its young actor's futures,
preventing them from following the temptations that often end with
a prison sentence. It is a spiritual mission as well as social one,
Mr Raymond says. "What a lot of the Church is interested in is how
many of these young people are in the congregation. . . . The fact
that they come here every day is church."
Many of the young people find faith during their tenure at IYT.
"They see that everyone who is helping them is a Christian," Mrs
Gillion says, "and that seems to lead to positive questions." Mr
Roache believes that this stems from the leaders' ethos, which
demands that people take responsibility for their own actions.
"They've kept me close for so long, and I grew to it," he says.
"It's not forced."
Eight months ago, Mr Forster was brought in to develop this work
further. "Audiences kept saying we had to take [the shows] into
schools," Mrs Gillion says. The formation of ITIE gives the young
IYT actors a chance to work in a professional sphere, leading all
the workshops and feedback sessions, and acting in positions of
leadership with their peers.
FIVE of the IYT actors now have agents, another three are
obtaining agents, and three have joined the BRIT theatre school.
But this is not the main aim. Mr Forster believes that the social
transformation that IYT enacts in marginalised young people's lives
is ITIE's strongest asset. "IYT teaches them so much that is
positive," he says. "It's not just acting, but time-keeping, and
organising your own life."
He believes that these life skills are what make programmes such
as ITIE invaluable. "It's about confidence-building. . . A lot of
the themes in Shakespeare can actually help you through your adult
Mr Roache sees it as a chance to share what they have learned.
"We're going to be going out and passing our knowledge down to
them, as it was passed to us - it's a fantastic opportunity."
On 24 January, ITIE will hold a launch to showcase its
techniques to schools, youth-offending teams, the police, local
councillors, and policy-makers. www.iyt.org.uk