Lockdown Diaries: Ajia & Kade

Ajia and Kade, Participants and Peer Facilitators of our Estate-based Youth Theatre programme, share their experiences of lockdown and how their roles at Immediate Theatre have helped them to develop skills and confidence.

Ajia: Hi, my name’s Ajia, I’m 16 and I’m a Peer Facilitator and Participant at Immediate Theatre. I love poetry, singing, painting and acting.
Kade: My name’s Kade, I’m 17 years old and I am also a Peer and Participant at Immediate Theatre. I’m interested in cooking, drama and working out. My career ambition is to become a successful engineer and to travel to different countries and explore the world.
Wally Foster performance   credit Sean Pollock
Kade & Ajia perform as part of Wally Foster Youth Theatre in the social action event in March 2020. Their group chose to explore racism & discrimination and the performance featured a powerful piece of spoken word written by Ajia.

A: My head of year told me about Immediate Theatre in November last year and I joined in February. On Mondays I work as a Peer in the SEND group and we explore different themes, on Wednesdays I’m a participant and we also explore different themes, but there’s also a writing element to it. On Saturdays I’m a Peer on Stepping Up, which is an online project for Year 7s that are transitioning from Year 6 into Secondary School.

K: I started in March this year, but I already had family participating in Immediate Theatre projects. On Tuesdays I work with children aged 5-12, we do a bit of arts and crafts, maybe a pantomime. From these sessions I’ve definitely improved my confidence in general, but also my ability to work with children. I really get involved and do a couple of warm up activities with them to get them rolling.

A: I’ve definitely gained more creative skills and my confidence and self-esteem has gone up immensely. When I first joined Immediate Theatre, I wasn’t confident and I wouldn’t talk to people, but the people here and the other participants are really friendly and really boosted that part of me. My ambition in the future is to be a poet, actor in a musical or an MP. My role as a peer helps with these ambitions because they all involve teamwork and understanding people, which is a key skill in being a peer. I’ve also been able to develop my writing skills through the projects we’ve done this year - writing spoken word poems and taking part in free writing workshops.

K: Lockdown really had a huge impact on my social life, I wasn’t able to see my friends and family. I felt trapped and just lonely in my house, so Immediate Theatre has really given me the opportunity to come and step out of my boundaries and meet a lot of new people and find out new things.

A: Lockdown affected my school work and my mental health because I felt really alone and isolated from everyone. My mum would be at work a lot because she’s a nurse, so I’d be alone quite a lot of the time. But Immediate Theatre still ran their sessions, so I’d still be seeing them two times a week on Zoom, which was really refreshing and nice because it was like there were people there for me and I didn’t feel alone in such a bad time. As soon as we came out of lockdown, Immediate were ready with a project for us to do in person, not many places were doing that. We did a summer project called Exposure where we did a script on shielding and COVID and different parts of our lives as well.

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Kade & Ajia during filming for Exposure in August.

K: We tackled COVID and the problems around it through Exposure. It definitely helped me to stay positive and engaged. Before I wouldn’t really reach out because quarantine just had me lonely and depressed, but they’ve really encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and just reach out to people and have a normal conversation.

A: There was also another project which we did with Glocal Films which was video diaries, and we saw different people’s lives during lockdown, and it was really an eye-opener that someone could have it worse than us. Each project we do there’s a part in it that I can relate to, or there’s something I can reflect on.

K: I also feel like I’ve got a different perspective of how things work. Since working with the children I wouldn’t do little things such as litter. I would take more care in everything that I do now.

A: The second lockdown is really irritating because I like things at a fast pace and always having things to do, but that’s nearly impossible while being in lockdown.

K: It’s really annoying because it’s ruined a lot of plans such as going to the gym, restaurants and retail shops. I didn’t really see the point in, I just think it’s really irrelevant. I do feel more prepared than the first lockdown, but at the same time it has consumed a lot of time from me, so I’m trying to do as much as I can to catch up and be on track with my coursework.

A:I feel more worried about this lockdown than the first, because last time the schools closed. The fact they’ve stayed open this time makes me think that our GCSEs will still go ahead, and that worries me because I had a large portion of studying taken away from me in the first lockdown. It puts me and the rest of Year 11’s at a disadvantage.

K: A lot of people my age have had their revision time taken away from them, so it has put a lot of stress on us and there’s this pressure that we must catch up no matter what with the little time we have until our exams. I’m not able to have a space for relaxation; my friends and I have to be stuck inside. I couldn’t begin to imagine how it feels for other people because it can really damage someone’s mental health being stuck indoors and not allowed out.

A: Our age group have been impacted a lot by COVID, I think the worst impact is that it has failed people in education. Having to learn online is very unfair and it isn’t the best option - it’s easier to get distracted, your living space might not be ideal, and some people may not even have WiFi. I don’t feel we’re being supported, but I can’t say young people have been less supported than other age groups, because from my point of view the only people being supported are the rich and powerful.

K: I feel like everyone isn’t really supported by the government because it’s clear to me that they’re doing actions just to say they’re doing it so the public don’t complain, rather than to actually help out. For example when Marcus Rashford initiated the food campaign for children and the government voted against his proposition.

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Exposure was developed by young people in collaboration with a professional playwright and explored issues such as relationships, shielding and loneliness during the first lockdown.

A: But the fact that Immediate Theatre is still open and I’m able to participate two times a week is one of the positives of the current lockdown. Especially since they’ve allowed my creativity to have a safe space. For example, in our project during October half term, I wrote a script called Tower Block Tales which was performed by all the participants. I would never have had this experience without them.

K: Immediate Theatre have really opened up a lot of opportunities for me. I think it’s very important to support them and the work they do.

A: There’s not a lot of places like this. Whether you’re bad in school or good in school, when you’re here it doesn’t matter because we’re all one community and we all look out for each other. We’re all in competition to be the best or to have the bigger role, but even if we don’t win a game or get the biggest role, we all support and help each other which is nice – not many places are like that. As soon as you come here you’re part of a family.

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To find out more about becoming a Peer Facilitator or joining one of our Youth Theatres, contact Participation Manager Charmain on 07525 892 953 or email charmain@immediate-theatre.com