As the world comes to Britain Black Country theatre group takes the great British cultural message abroad

As the Paralympics fire into full throttle following the Olympics and the Queen’s Jubilee an award-winning Black Country theatre group will be taking the great British cultural message abroad.

On Sunday (2nd September) seventeen representatives of Wolverhampton’s Central Youth Theatre (CYT) will be off to a gathering of international youth theatre groups in Šiaulia, Lithuania.

CYT members aged 14 – will take part in a seven day project called A Meeting of Minds with young people from Sweden, Slovenia, Lithuania and Latvia to create a piece of theatre in a week. As well as the workshops that the young people will participated in, there will also be a packed social programme – with each group organising a “national themed social event”.

CYT leader Holly Phillips says: “For our British event we are going to focus on the two biggest cultural events of the year, the Queens Jubilee and the Olympics. The young people are very excited as they are also performing their own devised show The Seven Ages of Women, which was premiered in July at the Newhampton Arts Centre.

“The show is based around Shakespeare’s famous Seven Ages of Man and is a very funny exposition of the milestones in women’s lives”.

While that group are in Lithuania, on the Thursday, 6th September, another group of four CYT members will be going to Baden, near, Vienna, Austria. They will take part in a three day European seminar for young leaders involving others from Ireland, Finland, Italy and Austria planning international collaborations between the five countries during 2013/14.

Joseph Twilley one of the CYT group said: “It is going to be very exciting to spend three days working with other groups from across Europe to plan a large scale international project. With the current collapsing European economies these kind of opportunities give new hope to young people – and promote international cultural understanding”.

As the travellers wind up their work a former CYT member, lighting designer and programmer Tim Routledge , who was part of the team praised for the fantastic lighting at the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games will be working at the closing ceremony of the Paralympics.

Starting at 7.30pm on Sunday 9th September, the event, called the Festival of Flame, will feature 2,000 performers including top British band Coldplay. Tim Tim Routledge, originally of Whitmore Reans, Wolverhampton, was Lead Lighting Programmer for Olympic shows which attracted worldwide praise. The BBC’s Gary Lineker also picked out the lighting at the closing ceremony as top drawer.

A CYT member from the age of 13, Tim cut his teeth in CYT as an actor in a number of productions, including one which toured the former USSR, but found a love of lighting.

CYT Director Jane Ward says:  “It was so exciting for current Central Youth Theatre members to watch the ceremonies on TV and know that the incredible lighting was being operated by a former member of their group.   Lots of our young members were buzzing with it on Twitter and Facebook – saying how proud they were of him.

“When LOCOG talk about inspiring a generation of sports people – they should also realise how this event has also inspired young people in creative ways as well.  Our own Cultural Olympiad-funded festival – Everybody Dance Now which was successfully staged across Wolverhampton in the summer of last year, is also receiving it’s own accolade as the project is being named on a commemorative Inspire Legacy plaque which is going to be unveiled at the Olympic Park later this year”.

Tim said of the Olympics: “The closing ceremony was especially hectic as we had just 16hrs to set the stage and make our technical preparations.  However, it was also a very special night as it marked for the fourth anniversary of meeting my wife Natasha at the closing Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. I’ve definitely got the Olympic bug and really hope that I can get involved in the Rio Olympics in 2016”.

Tim was associate lighting designer of the Queens Jubilee Concert outside Buckingham Palace. He said: “The Diamond Jubilee concert was a unique project to be involved with, and I was working with the best technical and creative people in the UK, from my colleagues Lighting Designer Durham Marenghi to projection producer Sam Pattinson an evening that was topped off with a champagne reception in the Palace.”


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