“For 20 odd years, Borders Youth Theatre has made a difference to the lives of hundreds of young people in the Borders – and sometimes it has been life-changing,” summed up BYT Chairman David Bissett at the group’s AGM on Sunday.
The retired Kelso High School physics teacher spoke of the continued achievements of BYT to encourage the development and opportunities available to young people in the Borders through drama. Mr Bisset underlined the importance of revisiting the core values and purposes of an organization which involves over 200 young people from across the Borders throughout the year, and uses drama and the learning of theatre skills to promote education, social skills and self-confidence.
Breaking from the usual mould, highlights from the BYT calendar last year included working with experts from the field of musical theatre to perform a brand new musical ‘The Watchers’ – successfully premiered by the young thespians in Melrose last summer.
Mr Bisset emphasised the importance of perseverance in supporting brand new workshop locations, such as those in Peebles and Hawick, where he hopes numbers will increase in the year to come.
He was further pleased that funds sufficently stretched to support all activitites, and even allowed BYT to expand into new projects.
However, he added: “It is frustrating to be unable to plan for more than, at most, a few months ahead.
“That doesn’t stop us trying, and we are in the process of completing a three-year plan on which we can base our funding bids.”
Looking to the year ahead, plans include partnering with the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Open Stages project for a series of Shakespeare workshops for senior students, which will lead to a show ‘Bordering on Shakespeare’ to be performed in part at Traquair in May and in full at Smailholm and Kirknewton in June.
This summer, BYT also intends to take to the streets of Border towns to perform pieces linked to the Cultural Olympics.