Calum Finlay, Playbox Theatre Associate Artist, returns for a star-studded second series of interviews. Playbox Theatre’s Chatterbox is giving young people and youth theatres the chance to interact directly with renowned artists and industry leaders.
BAFTA nominated actor George Mackay (1917; Captain Fantastic), Aimee Lou Wood (Sex Education; Uncle Vanya, West End), Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù (Gangs of London; The Huntsman: Winter’s War), BAFTA’s Breakthrough Brit Abubakar Salim (Assassin’s Creed; Raised by Wolves), Olivier Award nominated Laura Wade (Posh, West End; Home I’m Darling, National Theatre) and the Shadow Culture Secretary Tracy Brabin, will all take part in this series.
You’re presenting CHATTERBOX, the new series from Playbox Theatre, what can you tell us about it?
It’s an online and interactive interview series aimed at young people. Our guests each week are renowned artists and industry leaders. I think the big value of CHATTERBOX is that it encourages young people to engage with their local youth theatre rather than a central organisation. We’ve partnered with youth theatres up and down the country who co-stream the live interviews to their own Facebook pages for their members to engage with directly. We’re trying to support youth theatres in their attempts to keep their local communities of young people engaged!
How did you get involved with Playbox Theatre initially?
I was having a sleepover at my friend’s house and the next morning he asked if I wanted to go with him to a drama workshop – I said, why not! I was 11 years old and spent every Saturday and Sunday with Playbox Theatre right up until I went to drama school aged 18.
Where did the idea for CHATTERBOX come from?
I’m an associate artist at Playbox Theatre, a youth theatre in Warwickshire. I was talking with the Artistic Director about ways in which we could keep young people engaged with the arts during lockdown whilst embracing an online platform for delivery – we knew we wanted the content to be inspiring and interactive. And so CHATTERBOX was born.
The first series was just aimed at young people from Playbox Theatre but we quickly realised that there were youth theatres up and down the country experiencing similar hardship and so we wanted to reach out and offer them a way to engage their membership as well.
You’ve secured a fantastic line-up of guests, how did you convince them to take part?
The first series I was calling in favours left, right and centre! This series we’ve been relying on people’s kindness. I think that a generosity of spirit is something wonderful to have come out of this, mostly very trying, period.
Why do you think it’s so important to engage young people in the arts during lockdown?
Because being a young person can be really frustrating. You aren’t listened to, you can’t vote, and five days a week your told when to eat your lunch. But the arts is a community that encourages you to reflect on your world around you and wants to hear what you think. It’s not that it’s more/less important to engage young people with the arts during lockdown than it is ordinarily, it’s just about reminding them that, even though they might feel isolated, the arts are still there for them.
How have youth theatres been impacted by the current crisis, and how can we support them?
It’s a financial problem. Productions have been cancelled, cafe’s closed, memberships frozen. And youth theatres tend not to have huge reserves of cash to draw on. Playbox Theatre, for example, is in the middle of a £50,000 fundraising appeal that is absolutely critical to its survival! My advice is to get in touch with your local youth theatre and chat to them about what you can do to help.
What would you say to any young people thinking of signing up to take part in an episode of CHATTERBOX?
DO IT! And know that there’s no such thing as a silly question. Chances are that if you’re thinking it, then someone else is wondering the very same thing. So, don’t be afraid to ask!