Youth theatre saved me - now we must save it

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Blythe Duff on how youth theatre changed her life - and why it must be saved

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13th March 2018 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

When I was 11 years old I travelled across East Kilbride to attend the drama group at Duncanrig High School where Mr Henderson taught me stage craft.

We would perform one act plays and enter competitions even reaching the dizzy heights of Motherwell Civic!

I was fortunate, I had a drama teacher at school so I had two periods of art, music and drama instead of doing maths.

It saved me.

Blythe Duff

Blythe Duff

I owe youth theatre and their practitioners everything

We would visit theatres. Theatre companies would visit the school. We were encouraged to write scripts. 

I spent the next nine years working with every youth drama group I could find in EK and Glasgow.

When I tried to get in to drama school - and failed - the Glasgow Arts Centre and Scottish Youth Theatre (SYT) were there for me.

SYT and the Traverse gave me my first professional paid job 35 years ago affording me an association with these organisations which has continued throughout my career.

I owe youth theatre and their practitioners everything.

I’m not alone. I know hundreds and hundreds of people in every part of my profession who have carved out a career in the arts on the back of youth theatre, or have gained confidence to reach their own goals.

It’s been a tough recently for theatre companies, particularly those working with children and young people.

I imagine many of my friends have kids who go to youth groups (if they don’t, try and encourage them).

Parenting is hard parents don’t have many options keep kids inspired, knowing where they are at night allowing them to have fun in a safe environment. The theatre and youth theatre provides this.

If you are a parent, an auntie, an uncle, a grandparent, someone who cares about our kids I urge you to fight to keep this as an important part of our community.

I thank you.


Blythe Duff wrote this post recently about the plight of youth theatre generally. She agreed TFN could reprint it in light of developments at Scottish Youth Theatre, which she is a patron of.