There is frequently the feeling that come 6th year in PACE – the exit sign appears, and you must go.
I suppose this is the result of a “school mindset” – where 6th year marks the necessary transition to further education courses.
PACE is not school, in that sense – it is an educational theatre for young people , that can offer further and now higher learning opportunities , till its’ members decide – on their own volition – to move on.
Obviously there has to be “passion” still , for the type of theatre work we do, within the Spires Theatre Scene, especially for those who feel it is not their time yet to go.
PACE Studio Time classes are different in this aspect , as many have chosen to use PACE workshops as simply an enjoyable hobby, whilst focusing on other things – and therefore to leave, when they leave school – makes perfect sense – (for those leaving to do drama or other creative courses – not necessarily).
But saying this – you have to know ‘why’ you wish to remain in ” the PACE scene ” and that cannot just be, as part of the more comfortable social circle.
Most Youth Theatres up and down the UK , across the world even , have members that are as mature as 20 – National Theatre Connections exists for that reason – its’ 13-20 casting policy derives from the fact that youth performers don’t all leave their respective “youth theatre” aged “sixth year”.
We have had a few members over the years , who have remained happily in Spires Theatre Projects beyond the fifth/ sixth year watershed and who have still benefitted in many ways from the work they continued to do , until their further education courses began or they transitioned better into them.
It takes time to adjust to ‘new ways’ and we often need supported – just as 1st years at High School are supported into their new secondary lifestyle.
Sometimes “a bridge” between the two lives is needed, especially if PACE has been largely your life since a much younger child.
How do you get to the other side when you find yourself with an enormous gap to breach, practically and emotionally ?
The wrench in leaving PACE , can be emotionally challenging , the last shows you do , much harder to handle , the pressures and insecurities returning when you see others ” going on” in things you won’t longer be part of.
“SummerFest” becomes like a necessary “leaving do” to complete as a rite of passage – as opposed to just more Summer “acting opportunities” – and come August – there are tears, hugs and sad farewells , and an enormous hole left in your lives.
The Fest then looses its Celebration factor.
It doesn’t have to be this way – IF you can alter your mindset about your “PACE age expiry date”.
The STS year actually runs – January to December , our Studio Time groups run concurrently with school.
The end of the year , any STS PACE year – offers you the opportunity to stay on and be part of projects in an “extra sixth” transition format – like the English sixth form college or the French BAC – where students are often 18/19 before leaving their school.
This extra time helps them often happily through gap years before beginning “the next chapter” of their lives – the maturity to handle things better grows exponentially from this period of readjustment, this gradual letting go.
You don’t have to go from here now because “others” are going – there still sadly exists this ” mindset social culture” in PACE , where people “have to leave” with their particular generation of friends they evolved through with.
Don’t we always teach you that you are an individual , to think for yourself , to consider your needs, not the needs of the group – will you just be a follower in the next phase too ?
There are those who will be beginning new FE courses in August / September – who will leave this part of Scotland and travel to the other side of our land – that’s fact.
Geography and necessity do play a part here, and much as some may wish to stay a bit longer, they cannot.
But for those who have “no fixed agenda” , who have not discovered the ” fork in the road yet ” and who are looking to fill this year with everything to make them more mature, more grounded, energised and focused young people – why close the door just yet, when you don’t have to?
Why close the door because others tell you to go ?
Why close the door because you see younger people looking at you for staying ?
Why close the door because it is what is done before, by so called generations of PACE ?
Why go …if you want to stay …a bit longer?
What further joy is there, if you love drama, if you want to keep it part of your current life and continue here , to be more part of a national picture of Youth Theatre.
Summerfest is part of PACE drama it is not always just a laugh , it is good performance work and shining with fiends who share your theatre passion, and come August when it is finished , we shine and perform with fiends again, and so on and so on ….
This year it is the 10th Anniversary of the Verona Cup Challenge and it will be a “huge event” for us right across PACE.
10 years of outstanding , brilliant performance and two houses “both alike in dignity”, battling over a hallowed theatre prize.
Wouldn’t you want to stay and be part of that – just to say ” I was there ” – to have been part of those 10 Verona Challenges !
PACE Panto is always an option if you can “work things” around job / lifestyle schedules , PACE Christmas too , and then there is the prospect of an FE module or a new FE module in Firefly and then perhaps to take to the stage in NT Connections 2015 ?
And…and here we are again – the gap is gone , the hole is filled , the fork appears , and you can move on , but this time – on your terms.
You don’t have to give up your performance right , you don’t have to content with occasional drama working to give you, your drama ‘fix’ – you can have your acting cake and eat it too.
PACE is a wonderful thing , like a chameleon it changes with those that are around it – nothing stays the same in the Spires Theatre scene – nothing is fixed or set in stone – older is just another “label” sent to try us.
We would never make our ex 6th year actors not fit with those that are around them – casts are cast- for a reason.
Anyone reading this who is confused about their seeming departure date – should email me :
I am here to talk through your options, even if you want to keep the door open a bit more , whilst transitioning into local area FE courses.
I am here to help you still get ready for things to come. PACE is always here to support and inspire you.
” we inspire so you aspire ” is our motto remember?
It is never easy to make decisions on your own , we are swayed so easily by the voices of others, especially when young.
I am not “swaying you” to stay , simply asking you to consider the options available to you , before shutting the door on something that could still benefit you – so much – in the future.
The exit in a play is often seen as an entrance again , a page later.
Let your seeming exit now , give you the chance to consider a re entrance – but with a different focus – to use the time you have still – perhaps more productively for your own ends.
Who knows – a young peoples theatre group could emerge on the PACE scene. Like everything else we begin in PACE it needs braver creative trailblazers – those who don’t care about popular opinion , those that are a beacon of inspiration for others to un-sheepishly follow.
…those few , those happier few who want the PACE experience to continue to fit them for life.
I look forward to working with many ” older ” youth in the future – you are still very young in the grand scheme of things – don’t be too hard on yourself now – if I had a penny through my youth , for every blind , I’ll advised decision I made – I might be richer now in more ways than one.
We make our own PACE destiny , let yours be right for you.
Hope to see you in ” whispers ” what ever way you decide.