Tomorrow, La Scala! Theatre helps the jobless back to work

(l-r) Gavin Purchase, Tyler Coombes and Hilary Strong - young unemployed men who have joined a theatre skills company to try and get skills for the job market. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (132251-594)
(l-r) Gavin Purchase, Tyler Coombes and Hilary Strong - young unemployed men who have joined a theatre skills company to try and get skills for the job market. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (132251-594)
Pudsey the bear and St Thomas More headteacher Colin Flanagan Picture: Habibur Rahman

Children in Need: Pudsey Bear cycles around primary school

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IT’S a unique project to help the unemployed back into work – by producing a theatre show.

Making Theatre, Gaining Skills is the brainchild of Hilary Strong, the former director of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

She helps young people who have spent years on the dole learn vital skills through theatre production.

They learn everything there is to know about producing a stage show – bar the acting.

They have designed and made costumes, stage sets, and the lighting and sound for a childrens’ show which will be performed across Havant next week.

So far more than 50 people have benefited from the course, gaining skills they can use in the job market.

Hilary, who runs the courses across the area, said: ‘They are learning how to make theatre. Not so they can become actors – we have professional actors – but so they can gain really useful employment skills that are transferable to other industries.

‘We take unconfident, unskilled and, largely quite depressed, young people and give them skills, confidence, enthusiasm and a sense of self-worth.

‘In just three weeks they learn how to work as a team, solve problems and tackle all sorts of new tasks – even sewing and ironing.

‘So many of them have the same story, they don’t have any experience so they don’t get any replies to applications.

‘It’s very difficult for them because sometimes they have failed at school through no fault of their own.

‘Perhaps it was because they were ill or their family broke up, and they just can’t get on the ladder.’

Gavin Purchase, from West Leigh, left school without any qualifications and has been unemployed ever since.

He said: ’I’ve never done anything like this before and I was actually really nervous. But it’s been really good and I have learned some good skills.’

The Quest for the Fiery Flint is for three to eight-year-olds. Tickets are free.

Call 07906 057606 for tickets to see the show at Emsworth Community Centre, on August 20.

Call (023) 9245 3405 for tickets to Staunton Country Park on August 22 and 07906 057606 for tickets to Eastoke Corner Plaza, Hayling Island, on August 24.

Go to strong-ideas.co.uk for more..