The second of our series of blogs from people across the country about what theatre has done for them and their community.
Sayana is from Northampton and is a member of the RSC Youth Advisory Board.
The RSC Youth Advisory Board is a group of young people who are passionate about the performing arts, and we believe that this essential part of the creative sector is overlooked, and not given the credit or recognition that it deserves. We normally meet a couple of times throughout the year, but during the Covid-19 pandemic, we have decided to meet once a month to discuss the situation young people find themselves in during these uncertain times.
Theatre has been an opportunity for me to relax and forget about the outside world and the pressures of everyday life. I am a very academic person, so being creative has allowed me to have a break from school work, and has done wonders for my mental wellbeing and my self-esteem. My confidence has skyrocketed, allowing me not only to perform Romeo and Juliet at four primary schools in Northampton with my cast, but join Debate Club at school, and eventually be selected for the Debate team.
Being a person of colour, it has helped me realise that the performing arts isn’t some sector that is only possible to succeed in if you have money or power (like the performing arts sector in my home country of India, ie. Bollywood); nor is it a complete waste of time that I could be spending on my education. It helped me to realise that it actually has its benefits, all while being a source of happiness and knowledge, creativity and academia, ultimately shaping who I am today.
I have, slowly but surely, been introducing my classmates to the wonder that is the performing arts. Some of them have been introduced into my theatre group, Silhouette Youth, and others to school drama clubs, or asked to consider drama as a GCSE subject. I haven’t always been successful in getting them hooked, as everyone is different, but I satisfy myself that at least they know that the arts, as a door, is always open.
Why the arts matter to me
The arts give me skills that I will use in later life, even if I don’t choose it as a career path. These include teamwork, problem solving and even doing well when being interviewed for a job. This is because, as the Artistic Director of Silhouette always drums into us, the first rule of drama is discipline. The arts aren’t just an area to have fun and let loose, but to work hard, and see the fruits of this work.
The arts also matter to me as they allow people to be educated about other people’s day to day lives, and give them a further insight into their views and why they think in a certain way. They also allow me to meet new people and find a sense of companionship in other ‘theatre nerds’ like me. They allow me to channel my problems and stress into a good thing, and it helps me be myself.
What I want from the arts in the future
I would like to see the RSC do more against institutionalised racism in the creative sector. This is due to all of the events surrounding Black Lives Matter, and the discrimination people who are part of BAME communities face in their day to day lives, which simply isn’t acceptable in this day and age.
I would also like the RSC to do more regarding the mental health of young people up and down the country, as lockdown has created many challenges for them especially, and how the arts can help their mental wellbeing, after this is over, and during it.