Who's Who of the July Festival...Richard Hayhow, Queensbury Capers

Posted on 6 July 2015

Can you tell us a little about the history of the group and its mission?

Queensbury Capers is part of an ongoing programme of work developed within a long-term partnership between Birmingham Hippodrome (as part of its Hippodrome Plus programme) and Open Theatre Company. Its aim is to create lasting and sustainable opportunities for hundreds of young people with learning disabilities in Birmingham to experience and engage creatively in the performing arts.

Who is eligible to join the group?

We work in a range of contexts – primary and secondary specials schools, community venues and at Birmingham Hippodrome itself. Our theatre company ‘One Of A Kind’ is based at Birmingham Hippodrome and is open to young people with learning disabilities between the ages of 16 and 25. Open Theatre Company also works in partnership with Ego Performance in Coventry and together we run Alter Ego – a theatre group for young people with learning disabilities aged 14-25.

What types of project have you worked on in the past and what are you working on currently?

We create all sorts of projects from drama residencies in schools to production work that includes short films, devised theatre and outdoor and street events

Tell us a little more about the production/performance piece you will be presenting as part of the July Festival weekend?

Our film Queensbury Capers tells the story of two robbers and a mystery man plotting a big robbery using a bomb in a box – the other box contains an antique. With the boxes mixed up by two hapless students confusion rains down and the mystery man gets more than egg on his face! It was devised and performed by students from Queensbury School and filmed on location in Digbeth, Birmingham

Is this the group’s first experience of taking their work on the road? What do you hope the participants will take from their experience?

As this is a film the students who performed it will not be ‘taking it on the road’ as such. All those involved are keen for their work to reach a wider audience and film is seen as a very effective means of achieving this.

Why, in your opinion, is it important to invest in the creation of work by and for young people?

Young people with learning disabilities are traditionally excluded from most areas of the arts and cultural activity – yet they are some of the most creative and imaginative people we have worked with. It is important to invest in this area of work to ensure that these young people have the means to express themselves, to show their creativity alongside that of other young people and to equip them to become artists of the future

I Support Drama In Schools because…..

It enables the development of a whole range of skills that facilitate learning and understanding, inclusion and self-expression and the release of creativity.