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Youth Arts

Suitcase Theatre Roadshow

Suitcase Theatre Cast


Suitcase Theatre is an issue based theatre project. The main aim of which is to use the performing and allied arts as a medium to allow young people to explore and express their views and beliefs on issues that they feel effect their lives.

Most recently, Suitcase Theatre tackled the issues that arise from young people living so much of their lives online. There were massive issues unpacked by the young cast, and the result was a truly powerful performance that all young people could relate to. Audiences commented that the performances and resultant workshops really opened their eyes to the dangers of the online world, as well as the major impact that small everyday actions and comments can have. ‘Virtual Impact’ opened in Belfast and toured to Armagh, Newry and Monaghan before being opened on stage again in Belfast due to popular demand in June 2015.

The suitcase theatre initiative has three key stages.

  • Stage 1: We recruit a cast of about twelve young people from the Rainbow Factory school of the performing arts. The cast then choose an issue that they feel is important to them and their peers and this formulates the focus of the play. The cast then take part in a number of workshops (Facilitated by youth workers from a particular priority youth work area) aimed at exploring thoughts, feelings, attitudes and understanding towards a particular subject.
  • Stage Two: The young people from the Rainbow Factory use the knowledge and learning about the issues they have gained to devise a 45-minute play (With the help of a professional director). Once the play has been created, the project team and the cast will then create a 45-minute follow up workshop, based on the issues raised or even missed/provoked through the performance. The young people also take part in a number of workshops aimed at developing their facilitation skills so they are able to facilitate the workshop with an audience of their peers. The performance and the workshop are central components to the 'Suitcase Theatre Roadshow'
  • Stage Three: Once the Roadshow has been created we then tour it to theatre and venues around Northern Ireland. In each area an appropriate audience is targeted to attend the theatre piece and then take part in the follow up workshop which is facilitated by the cast. The main aim of this workshop is to provide the audience with the opportunity to discuss their views on the issues presented by the play.

In 2002 the arts unit piloted the first suitcase theatre in partnership with the HYPE project (Health for Youth through Peer Education). This initiative focused on raising young peoples' awareness of sexual health and relationships through a drama production and follow up workshop called K.I.S.S (Keeping it safer sex)

In 2004 we went into partnership with the other five units within YouthAction N.I to create and tour Trapped. Trapped focused on Risk Taking behavior and was toured to theatres across Northern Ireland. Trapped was revived in 2007 and was performed in our new youth arts studio theatre space, The Rainbow Factory Studio, College Square North.

In 2006 we went into partnership with the gender units within YouthAction N.I to create and tour Moulded. Moulded focused on gender issues and what makes you who you are and was toured to theatres across Northern Ireland.

Finally In 2008 we went into partnership with Contact Youth to create and tour Crossroads. Crossroads focused on issues around Suicide, Sexuality ans Self harm. The Roadshow was initially based in our new youth arts studio theatre space, The Rainbow Factory Studio, College Square North. It then went on the road touring to theatres across Northern Ireland.

'l really enjoyed the experience of touring. It was something I have not done before and really enjoyed.'

'I have learned how to work with a completely different team of people and be able to create a piece of theatre that is relevant to young people today. I learned how to talk about the piece with the young members of the audience and facilitate a workshop that let them voice their opinions on the piece and the issues that face them today.'

'The ultimate learning experience, bar none'

'I got a new perspective on the power of drama to provoke thought and give voice to youth concerns'. {youth worker}

'Ihave learned how not to be overwhelmed by peer pressure'

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