It’s easy to think of child actors as the kind of precocious youngsters who always enjoy hogging the limelight.
But that’s not the case at a new Gainsborough theatre company which doesn’t hold auditions.
“I believe in using theatre to help children improve their social skills, to build confidence and help them to have a voice,” says Laura Kavanagh, education and outreach co-ordinator for Shooting Fish Youth Theatre.
“If young people come along and are enthusiastic and want to do it we can help them to become great performers.”
Shooting Fish is based at Trinity Arts Centre and began last September after Laura recruited youngsters from local schools.
She knows from personal experience how quieter children can sometimes be put off joining the theatre.
“When I was growing up I was intimidated by our local theatre group because the ones who went there were very theatrical and I was scared to go along.”
She eventually joined a youth theatre in Dudley in the West Midlands and went on to study community arts at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, after which she set up her own community arts company in Liverpool with some friends.
“We were doing really well but then we all went our separate ways and I was doing freelance work when I saw the job at Shooting Fish advertised.”
Laura is clearly passionate about the theatre and encouraged the children to come up with ideas for their first performance.
She wrote a script based on their idea for a thriller, which involved a prehistoric egg and a conspiracy. “It was a bit of a baptism of fire, but it seemed to go down well with the audience. We just did one performance and had a lot family and friends in to watch.”
Laura is now concentrating on honing the children’s stage skills before they prepare for another production after Easter time.
She said: “I want to get the groups to really get to know each other before we do another show.”
“We’re looking at lots of different acting skills and lots of different acting styles of theatre, and building up their technique.”
“Then once we’re really established we will be looking at putting on a double bill after Easter.”
She chose Gainsborough to start up a theatre group because in Lincoln, where she lives, the market is already saturated with four other groups.
Laura still likes to perform herself and takes part in productions put on by the youth theatre’s parent Shooting Fish Theatre Company, which is based in Lincoln.
It is run by artistic directors Darren Bolton and Emily Bignall and puts on a variety of shows where the audience is encouraged to join in.
“I really enjoy interactive theatre where members of the audience can get involved and take part,” said Laura.
“I enjoy taking part in physical theatre.”
She is planning to set up a junior theatre group for seven to ten-year-olds after Easter.
The 11 to 14-year-olds meet on Tuesday nights from 5-7pm, followed by the 15 to 18-year-olds who meet from 7-9pm.
It costs £3 a week and anyone interested in joining can contact Laura on 01522 787080.