Catch Up with BBC Documentary on Belgrade Youth Project Acting Out

Posted on 10 November 2015

Last night, BBC One broadcast a one-off documentary on the Belgrade’s pioneering youth project, Acting Out, as part of BBC On Stage – a series focusing on the challenges of theatre-makers across the UK.

If you missed the documentary, catch up now on BBC iPlayer…


The programme follows the journeys of nine Coventry teenagers as they prepared to perform on the Belgrade stage. The performance was part of their two-year Acting Out course – a ground-breaking, work-related learning programme that works with young people who are not achieving their full potential within the mainstream education system.
The project has been rolled out very successfully in both Cardiff and Birmingham, and has twice been cited as a model of best practice in the Government White Paper on 14-19 Education and Skills, keeping the Belgrade Theatre firmly at the forefront of pioneering community arts work.

‘’The types of students involved in Acting Out come from a wide range of backgrounds. Some have specific learning needs, others behavioural. For some of the students that are referred to us, this is their only opportunity to gain a recognised qualification. For others who’ve been thrown multiple hurdles at a very young age, Acting Out is that one place where they can feel assured that they won’t be let down, where they can feel a sense of safety and be guaranteed stability. Many of our past Acting Out students have gone on to develop careers in the creative industries. As well as developing confidence and pride in their work, participants learn to channel their energies in a more positive direction, often changing their lives for the better in the process’’.
Claire Simpson, General Manager

This half-hour programme is voiced by TV Impressionist, actor and stand-up comic Alistair McGowan and follows the 2013-15 cohort of Acting Out ahead of their production of The Beauty Manifesto, by Nell Leyshon.

Run by the Belgrade’s Community & Education Company, Acting Out, offers young people the opportunity to participate in drama and performing arts, led by professional theatre practitioners. By the end of the course, each Acting Out student will get the chance to perform at the Belgrade and will have achieved a BTEC Level 2 Extended Certificate in Performing Arts.

The documentary also reveals the threat posed by the loss of funding to the theatre and the impact this would have on the work of the Community & Education Company. It shows how the theatre is working towards increasing it’s own revenue to become less reliant on funding. The Belgrade has been successful in increasing its income from 46% to 62% since 2008/9.

During November 2015, the BBC will be celebrating British Theatre via a range of special programmes running across television, radio and online. The centre piece of the On Stage season, is a new production of Ronald Hardwood’s The Dresser starring Ian McKellen and Anthony Hopkins, directed by Richard Eyre on BBC Two. BBC One will feature two episodes of Imagine, including ‘The art of being an actor’. BBC four has a night of short form drama which will be performed at television centre (the first to come from there since it was decommissioned in 2013). Meanwhile, Radio Four launches a series on the story of black British theatre presented by Lenny Henry.

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