Last term, our Foundation Actors created and performed an original show about youth homelessness in the UK and raised over £400 for one of the UK’s leading charities helping homeless individuals, St Mungos.
Here’s what the Foundation Actors thought about their experience:
Foundation Acting Course leader Michael Toumey had chosen and presented us with the title, and highlighted the importance of sharing hard-hitting stories and subjects showing real issues happening around us. With this in mind, we didn’t want to play into cliche stereotypes of what the average person's perceptions of a homeless person might be. We instead wanted to share truthful stories, centring around their pains, struggles and realities of being homeless. Course member Audrey Jones's phrase stuck with us: “The importance of being homeless and... Creating three-dimensional beings who are homeless and other things. Real people, not just defined by their circumstance.”
We recognised that we were privileged to be in a position where we could create a play about this subject and bring these truths to light. Integral to creating a truthful piece was research; finding out what causes young people to become homeless, their experiences, and the repercussions on their being, health and life. It was helpful in developing our research skills.
We wrote this play entirely ourselves, creating our own characters but writing for other members of our group, with Michael helping us make bold, interesting choices along the way and guiding us in the writing process. Personally, I have had some experience with writing, but not as extensive, so I was very excited about this part.
My favourite part of the process was working on the character alongside the script once it had been written by a fellow course member. We all strived to find truth depth in our characters and create lives that have led them to where they are today. Once this was partnered with the text, we were able (with a lot of hard work) to create snippets of what we hope came across as real people and true lives. This taught us a lot about not only our process as actors, but also ourselves as people. It has given us all more knowledge and insight into the importance of script which is something we can apply not only when writing our own material, but also when performing already written work. We also all enjoyed the movement sequence that we created with GSA lecturer Anna Tringham, learning how to balance realism with elements of abstract moments to create impact.
It wasn't only the on-stage factors we had to work on though - we had a lot of work to do with behind-the-scenes production. From music to lighting, marketing, and more, With support from Michael, we had to learn a lot about how to put on our own fully formed show and were lucky enough to partner with St Mungo’s charity. We felt it was important to work with a charity that can truly make a difference, and we’re delighted that they were so accommodating to us. All the coordination of rehearsals, meetings, deadlines and more has given us the groundwork to be able to put on our own work in the future.
The money we raised will be able to help 16 individuals get off the street and start their journey into a better life. From this, I have really learnt the importance of creating work that makes an impact and shows the injustices in our society. It might not be ‘safe’ or to everyone’s taste but I think it’s extremely important to show strong issues like this. I’m so happy that Michael really pushed us to show this subject and get us out of our comfort zones, because without him doing that, I’m not sure we ever would have made something like this but it was definitely the right decision and I know we have all benefitted incredibly from the experience.
We hope we have been able to change real lives with this show. For me, that’s something I will be looking to do more of in the future through my art. We now know the meaning of truly making the audience stop, think and feel something and going forward we’ll be wanting to achieve this in all we do.
We would like to thank everyone who helped us make this show a reality; Loz from third-year BA Theatre Production, Charlie who was our stage manager, Anna Tringham who helped with Movement Direction and of course a huge thank you to our wonderful course leader Michael Toumey who brought it all to life beginning to end, as well so many more people. Lastly, we would like to thank all the audience members who came to watch and support us, and of course St Mungos for all their help and support with the show and the work they are doing for homeless people.
Written by Fay Davies, Foundation Acting student (2023)