Canberra Youth Theatre (CYT) has an extensive history spanning over 45 years and has worked with young people across all aspects of theatre and production during this time.
Engaging with our Alumni is an important part of our operations, particularly inviting these practitioners back to CYT to work with our young artists in workshops, classes, and performances. We are excited to welcome back playwrights, poets, actors, directors, and designers, providing a valuable pathway and ensuring our young people see that a career in the arts is a viable and rewarding option.
A little bit about – Claudia Howarth, CYT Technical Theatre Team 2016
Before joining CYT in 2016, I was in my last semester of a Bachelor of Arts at the Australian National University, majoring in History and English. I had very limited experience in theatre (only taking one high school theatre class), however I have always had a great interest in the production side of performing arts. I wanted to do this course to see whether theatre might be something I would be keen to pursue as a career or hobby.
With this in mind, I joined CYT’s Technical Theatre Workshop to learn the basics of theatrical lighting, sound design and stage management. As well as attending weekly classes with industry professionals, we were given key roles in two of CYT’s productions. I was approached by the artistic director, Katie Cawthorne, to be the stage manager for The Verbatim Project. At first reluctant to be entrusted with so much responsibility, I soon realised that I thoroughly enjoyed the role and, once The Verbatim Project had finished, I asked to stage manage the next production – The Greek Project: Antigone.
By the end of the course, I had stage-managed two shows, and acquired solid knowledge of how a theatrical production goes from an initial idea right through to opening night. But the benefits of attending CYT didn’t stop after the course was over – Katie told me about a course in theatre production that she thought I should apply for. She provided advice and guidance on the application process, and this is what undoubtedly clinched me the spot. Thanks to the amazing people at CYT, I am now studying stage management as part of a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Production) at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne.
I found my time at CYT to be particularly valuable because it helped me realise that I am capable of handling bigger tasks and much more responsibility than I had ever thought possible. The tutors encouraged us, believed in our abilities, trusted us and treated us like professionals. I am very grateful to have had this experience and would recommend it to anyone interested in theatre and what goes on behind-the-scenes.
A little bit about – Casey Elder, CYT Alumni and Tutor
Casey started at CYT in 2010 and has since gone on to graduate from NIDA.
She was in the Actors Ensemble Productions Retrieval (2010), Cockroach (2011 and 2012), and SKIN (2015). Casey was also a part of the Associate Artists Program as an Associate Director and directed shows in Canberra and Perth. Those productions were The Great (NUTS), Zak and Reefa’s Bollywood Funeral (Fringeworld, YouAreHere) and Talk Dirty To Me (The Cutting Room Floor).
Casey has been a Tutor for CYT since 2011 and has represented CYT at the Youth Theatre Forum in Melbourne. In 2014 Casey studied makeup at the Canberra Makeup Academy and has since gone on to study makeup at NIDA, which she has just graduated from in 2016.
Casey is now living in Sydney working as a makeup artist on short films and a semester production at NIDA.
When discussing CYT Casey quotes, “I miss being around CYT, it always feels like coming home when I go back there. I owe a lot of who I am as an Artist to CYT, most of my development happened there and I’ll always be grateful to them for all the incredible opportunities they gave me.”
A little bit about – Joshua Bell, CYT Alumni and poet
Joshua Bell is a Canberra based Actor, Writer, and Theatre-maker, and the poet responsible for the inspiration behind our production poem every day. He has been an active member of CYT since 2008, being involved with many productions including: The Messenger, A Good Animal, Studio Underground and SKIN.
He has performed with many groups including Canberra REP, NUTS, ANU, You Are Here, River of Arts Festival, BnC Theatre, The Acting Company, ImproACT, and most recently became part of the troupe Lightbulb Improv.
He currently works as a Reference Librarian at the National Library of Australia, and can be seen reading his poetry at Slamboree, BAD!SLAM!NO!BISCUIT!, Art Underground and Smith’s Varietal. His recent poetry undertaking is his poem every day project where he creates a poem every day for 30 days. In 2015 Georgia Black’s exhibition Think of Your Thoughts was titled after one of his poems.
He credits (blames) CYT for a lot of his creative endeavours.
What does CYT mean to you?
I started working with CYT straight out of year 12, and it was the best thing that I could have done. The level of training was fantastic, everyone was so supportive, and I got to form some close friendships which I still cherish. It gave me the opportunity to find my voice, and to gain confidence and skills in performance, but more crucially than that, in life. That’s why I continued to be involved over my teens/early twenties. It offered a safe place where I was pushed, where I could experiment, and I have yet to find another place quite like it.
I can honestly say that I would not be the same person I am without the help of CYT.
Poetry lives and breathes in all of us, and I don’t believe that it’s possible for a person to exist without it influencing them in some way. Some people are more drawn to it than others, but poetic language exists in so many ways: music, scripts, architecture – it’s simply inescapable. But personally, the poetry I write comes from a place where I can attempt to express things in which I couldn’t otherwise. This heightened language, which is highly intimate can say simply what I’m incapable of in other spaces.
What are you working on next?
I’m continually writing, and I hope to have a book of poetry out in the next year or two – but that’s later down the track. Most of my poems can be found on my blog.
Other than poetry, I regularly perform improvised theatre with Lightbulb Improv, I have a live show inspired by Dungeons & Dragons every month called Roll for Intelligence, and most recently I became an Assistant Editor for Homer – an online publication exploring questions about gender and masculinity.
Do you see there being another ‘poem every day’ experiment?
Most definitely. I have learnt so much by writing a poem every single day for a month, and I would encourage others to try the same thing. Please let me know if you do!
What is a zine?
It’s a micro-publication – say under 100 or 200 copies ever made. It’s a shortened version of magazine. Each of my poetry zines have only had 50 of them created.
A little bit about – Emily Sheehan, CYT Alumni and award-winning playwright
Emily Sheehan is a playwright, actor and dramaturg.
Emily completed her Masters in Playwriting at the Victoria College of Arts (VCA) in 2015 where she was awarded a competitive creative scholarship, and her Bachelor of Arts (Acting) in 2011.
Her first play Hell’s Canyon won the 2015 Rodney Seaborn Award, was shortlisted for the 2016 Patrick White Award, and was a showcased play in Playwriting Australia’s 2016 National Play Festival at The Malthouse Theatre, directed by Sarah Giles. Her short work Eating Sunshine was published by Currency Press as part of the Australian Theatre for Young People’s 2014 Voices Project.
In 2017, Emily is under commission with two theatre companies, writing versions of us for Canberra Youth Theatre, and Daisy Moon Was Born This Way for JSPAC.
As a dramaturg, Emily undertook the Playwriting Australia Dramaturgy Internships in 2014, a six-month traineeship in script assessment and new play development. She has worked as a script reader and script assessor for Playwriting Australia, and as a dramaturgy intern with Melbourne Theatre Company Cybec Electric, and a dramaturgy intern at the National Script Workshops.
As an actor, her theatre credits include Edinburgh Fringe, Perform Educational Musicals, Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Tap Gallery, The Australian Theatre for Young People, New Theatre and Epicentre Theatre. Emily has also worked as an actor in television, commercials and independent film, and was nominated for Best Comedy Actress at the Australian Webstream Awards.
More about Emily’s plays:
Daisy Moon Was Born This Way
Bright eyed and eccentric 14-year-old Daisy Moon is President and Founder of the Little Monsters Club for Misfits, where she holds her club meetings inside the dusty beachside bus stop on her front lawn. She’s the club’s only member.
Her 17-year-old brother Noah couldn’t be more different. An elite athlete on the cusp of cracking national competitions, his world falls apart when he’s caught cheating on a time trial.
The siblings both dream big but are stuck in a world too small. Set in a coastal town, this play draws on Australian iconography of the faded beachside surf club, but turns it on its head by drenching it with pop-culture and contemporary teen attitude. This new Australian play is a coming of age dramatic comedy about making mistakes and learning to love yourself anyway
versions of us
An awkward and offbeat look at adolescence, and the versions of normal we perform for one another. Set in Canberra, the story follows along a chain of twelve young people, seeking out the humanity and humour within the seemingly mundane moments in their lives.
A note from Emily Sheehan
Hi CYT peeps! My name’s Emily and I’m 28 years old. Which means 10 years ago I was doing after school drama at Canberra Youth Theatre, dreaming about becoming an actress.
If I could go back and tell my eighteen year old self that she’d spend the next ten years training to become an actor, traveling to Chicago and study writing, and then move to Melbourne to work as a playwright and dramaturg (a fancy term for script editor) – she probably wouldn’t believe me!
Which is why I was so insanely delighted when I found out I’d be writing this year’s teen production versions of us for twelve amazing young actors at Canberra Youth Theatre.
At the moment of writing this, I’m sending the final draft of versions of us to the directors in five days!
Writing versions of us has been a collaborative process with the actors and directors. Which basically means that I had no idea what I’d be writing until I got in the room with the cast and started finding out who they are. And let me tell you, these little firecrackers did not hold back.
I was blown away by how giving they were of their dreams, their insecurities, and what it actually feels like to be themselves day to day. But I always knew they would. Why? Because drama kids, even the ‘shy ones’, have so much courage.
It takes GUTS to do creative work. It takes a massive heart. All of your joy. And a lot of grit.
And that’s exactly what our versions of us cast brought into the room from day one of our creative development in July. And what I’ve tried to do every day at my computer since.
The quest for perfection is ridiculous. But that doesn’t mean we don’t pour our whole heart into the art we make.
With love, Emily.