National Lottery Awards for All support Masterclasses for young artists

Workshop participants are walking in a line together, moving their arms and smiling.

Diverse City recently hosted a Masterclass in partnership with The Point Eastleigh, thanks to funding from National Lottery Awards for All. Extraordinary Bodies Young Artists and local disabled and non-disabled young people age 16-30 came together to explore performance skills and aerial training.

Jamie Dodd, a third year student studying BA Theatre and Performance Studies at Bristol University, joined us for the week to develop his understanding of inclusive practice and inform his ‘Applied Theatre’ assignment. Jamie worked alongside Diverse City’s producers, lead artists, support workers and participants and has documented the journey of the 3-day Masterclass.

Thanks to Jamie for sharing his experience and insights with us through this blog. 


“Day 1: What’s it all about?

Our first session, led by David Ellington allowed our participants to get to know each other whilst learning a little bit about BSL. After creating a sign name (if you didn’t have one already!) and sharing that with the group, we went on to play a memory game to really test our young people and see if they could not only remember the names of over thirty people, but their sign names too!

Daryl Beeton then led the group in a drama workshop to bring everyone together and have fun whilst preparing our bodies for the physical week ahead.

After warming up and getting comfortable with working closely with one-another, the participants were asked to get stuck in with a writing task. They were asked to write 10 sentences beginning with “I am…” This encouraged participants to reflect on their own personality and traits. Believe me, writing ten things is harder than it seems!

Finally to round off the morning, Daryl led the participants in some improvised devising. Using the lists created earlier, the young people were thrown into scenes and asked to pick one item from their list, and create a character around the chosen sentence. For example, with the sentence: “I am… A happy person.” The character would have to be dominated by happiness!

After meeting so many new people and a very busy morning, our participants were led in a physical warm up by Rowan Fae.

This involved learning a small snippet of Choreography and exploring movement and concentration exercises, as concentration and awareness of others in the room is key when working with aerial equipment. After a short break, the participants were shown how to put on a seat harness, and encouraged to explore their bodies on the lines. Everyone finished the day with sharing some amazing work!

Day 2: Devising and harnesses!

Today the group were split in two, with half the group developing their harness-work skills, whilst the others got creative and devised new material.

Daryl worked with half of the group in the dance studio, using the participants’ emotions and experiences to devise work in small groups. This led to some interesting work on how society views different people, and how people feel within themselves.

Rowan worked with the remaining participants and allowed them to further explore working with a harness. We added in a two-line system so that participants could work together, using each other’s weight to perform some spectacular spins, twists and flying.

After lunch the groups swapped activities before finally sharing their work at the end of the day.

Day 3: d/Deaf awareness and BSL training

The day began with David teaching the participants some basic BSL. Participants learned the alphabet and how to spell their names, followed by some general conversation signs including weather and emotions. Now everyone is equipped with the skills to introduce themselves to a BSL user, and tell them a little bit about themselves!

After lunch, the participants sprung into action to collate everything they’d done into a small performance for parents, relatives, partners, and whoever else to come end enjoy. They showcased everything they’d learned including a dance routine, introducing themselves in BSL, their devised acting pieces, and harness work.

The sharing finished with a dance choreographed by one of the participants, and eventually the audience, performers, artists and facilitators were all up dancing, having a fantastic time!

This week is proof that the future of performance and the arts will be accessible for all.”

National Lottery Funded logo


Words by Jamie Dodd
Photos: ©Dom Moore