We recently sat down with two of Bard’s Riotous Youth to discuss their experience in the Bard Education program and what they learned this summer. Here, Bonnie and Isaac share their view on the program, what prompted them to apply and how they’ve used it as a place to explore their passion for theatre.

Riotous Youth Ensemble (L) to (R) Libby, Isaac, Bonnie & Matthew

Q: Who are the Riotous Youth?

Bonnie: The Riotous Youth program is a part-time paid internship where you receive acting and teaching training. All Riotous Youth are Teaching Artists in-training with the Young Shakespeareans workshops. We also collectively create a show with Shakespeare scenes that we’re interested in, and perform it for the public at the end of the summer.

Isaac and I were also in the Ensemble, a group of four Riotous Youth that created a show called ‘A Shakesperience’. It was an educational Shakespeare presentation geared towards kids and teens that we toured around to schools and community groups around the Lower Mainland. We started with the Riotous Youth program in May, but the Young Shakespeareans camps and workshops start in July so the rest of the Riotous Youth start then.

Q: Why did you apply to be a part of the Riotous Youth program?

Isaac: This is my second year in the program and I really like theatre — especially Shakespeare. I had such a great time teaching the kids in the Young Shakespeareans workshops last year, that I wanted to have that experience again and build on the skills I learned last year.

Bonnie: There are so few paid internship opportunities with high-caliber theatre companies like Bard on the Beach. It was an easy decision to apply to train with actors who have so much talent and experience.  I also did Young Shakespeareans workshops until I was 14 or 15, and the opportunity to gain experience as a teacher instead of as a participant was a huge catalyst for my application. Plus Mary Hartman, the Director of Education at Bard, is so phenomenal and I wanted to work with her because she has such a wealth of knowledge and experience in Shakespeare and Shakespeare education.

Q: What types of activities do the Riotous Youth participate in other than teaching kids, and how is it decided who does what?

Bonnie: Some Riotous Youth are more interested in acting, some teaching, and some both. So the Bard Education team chooses which activities we participate in based on the feedback they get from us during our auditions.

Isaac: A few of us do the ‘In a Nutshell’ pre-show talks before the play performances, we help out at the Family Night events where we’re needed, plus the ensemble performs excerpts of ‘A Shakesperience’ on those nights as well. We also helped out at the Firework nights — we dressed up in 1970s clothing and read sonnets to people for donations to the Bard Education Bursary Fund. It was a fun night.

Q: What can you take away from your experience as a Riotous Youth at Bard?

Bonnie: Specialized training in Shakespeare from people who have the highest level of Shakespeare expertise, and who just generally love Shakespeare. What I’ve taken and continue to take away is knowing that there are so many passionate people that are passionate about the same things you are, it’s just a matter of finding them. Plus — I’ve learned innovative ways to explore Shakespeare other than just studying the text on the page.

Isaac: Something I’ve definitely taken away from this is the ability to be more patient with kids. They can act out and be disruptive sometimes, but I feel like in theatre it’s such a great example that those people are still growing and developing in their lives. It’s important not to give up on them but put effort in and show interest, because what you put in you’ll get out from that person.

Bonnie: And I think it’s really exciting to be a part of a kid’s first experience with Shakespeare.

Isaac: Exactly. You become one of those people that kids can look back to and think ‘oh ya he or she really helped me get into theatre’ and that’s a really cool feeling.

Q: How does the Riotous Youth program help with your career path?

Isaac: It definitely helps with networking. You meet a lot of people in the Vancouver theatre and screen community through Bard and it’s a good starting point as an emerging actor. A lot of the actors are really nice and will give you acting and teaching tips.

Bonnie: Also in Vancouver, there’s so few opportunities to be a full time actor that it’s great to learn other skills like creating theatre or teaching kids, which can help support acting on the side. So having teaching experience at a reputable company is huge and helps you find other opportunities. And it’s great to connect not only with Vancouver actors, but the other Riotous Youth who are from other countries that we could possibly reach out to and collaborate with in the future. This year we have someone from Germany, the US and England.

Isaac: Bard is such a great place – even if you only think you have a passion for theatre, I think this is one of the best places to start that exploration into it. From my personal experience, the Riotous Youth program is a really safe place and when you’re just starting out in acting that’s so hard to find. If you want the great experience I had, I would definitely recommend starting here.

Bonnie: I think that applies to both Young Shakespeareans and Riotous Youth as a place to play and discover, and test the boundaries of your own expectations of yourself. It’s so wonderful when you can surprise yourself!

To meet the other Riotous Youth and watch the program video, click here. Applications for the 2019 Riotous Youth will open in fall 2018.