At The Base @ Belmont there are always plenty of opportunities for young people to try new experiences and challenge themselves – from bike restoration programs to cooking and art engaging activities – they’ve got it all. However, the team at The Base recently identified one gap in offerings, being for young people wanting to take up careers in comedy or improvisation. So what did they do?
On January 9th, 10th, and 11th from 11am-1pm, DIY Comedy Workshops were held at YMCA HQ in Leederville. The workshops were funded by The City of Vincent and Healthway and gave a unique opportunity for the young people to learn from comedienne Nadia Collins. Nadia has been performing weekly with The Big HOO-HAA! improv comedy troupe since 2007, but hasn’t always been a comedienne, and the young people from The Base were incredibly inspired by her story.
“On the first day Nadia spoke about her experience as a stand-up comedienne, what it’s like being part of an improvisation trip and how she used to be a lawyer,” The Base @ Belmont youth worker Laura Dunlop said.
“That really picked everyone’s interest because it showed them she had a really good career but now is a comedienne doing an awesome job she loves - she also explained how she spent six months in France going to circus school – so immediately everyone was drawn to her.”
And it wasn’t only the young people from the Base who were lucky enough to experience the exciting opportunity.
“Out of the 16 people there we took four of our young people, and it was great to see them around a different and new mix of people – it definitely helped to bring everyone out of their shells,” Laura said.
From improvisation games, to characterisation, techniques and skill development, Laura said it was extremely rewarding seeing the young people developing new skills and learning so much subconsciously.
“When we did the improvisation games it was for the young people to learn the basics, but they also learnt about accepting all offerings, that there are no wrong answers, and not to shut people down,” Laura said.
“They started to do little skits and sketches and they all really enjoyed it - the young people probably didn’t even realise some of the things they were learning; the communication, the concentration, teamwork and staying in character.”
The Base has run drama workshops before out of their location in Belmont, but Laura said the young people have held back and been ‘too cool’ to show and use their imagination. This wasn’t an issue at HQ though, with the third and final workshop rounded out with 40 minute group improvisation acts, which proved to be a standout highlight.
“To finish, Nadia put everyone into groups and they did a 40 minute performance that was self-facilitated using the four games we’d been working on,” Laura explained.
“So the games were the basis of their performances and the rest was all improvisation. It was so cool – we were all just in the moment and did it and everyone really enjoyed it.”
Programs like the comedy workshops are a great way for young people to showcase their inner creativity, develop confidence and connect new people.