Who are we?
Established in September 2014 after Urban Myth closed their classes, SAYarts is an award-winning collective of actors, directors, writers and arts professionals who seek to continue the strong tradition of theatre-making in Adelaide’s youth community and beyond. Each year we offer students aged 13-18 the opportunity to create and present work with a professional playwright in the Adelaide Fringe Festival. We have performed in the Dream BIG Children’s Festival, exhibited in National Youth Week, and created over 15 original works since our inception. In a usual (non-pandemic) year we hold a showcase of all of our classes in term 3.
Managing Director & Creative Producer Bec Pannell registered the company with the belief that theatre and creative endeavour are crucial in the lives of young people. Initially joining her on the initial creative journey were award winning playwright, director and specialist youth tutor Sean Riley (former Artistic Director); theatre-maker and actor Claire Glenn (our most recent Artistic Director); extraordinary dance teacher and theatre-maker Nicole Allen.
Our current team are trained industry professionals – including recent graduates from Australian and International Drama Schools. We continue to offer masterclasses with guest specialist teachers. Our goal is to have as much fun as we can whilst helping our students to learn their craft. All of our teaching artists are COVID trained, hold Working With Children Checks, and our senior staff have Child Safe Environment training.
Our first production was Sean Riley’s Warren in September 2014. Thanks to a Pozible campaign and the amazing support of parents and the Adelaide theatre community we saved this former Urban Myth production and 46 kids ended up on stage at the Goodwood Institute. It was a moment of absolute joy, and there have been many since.
Why theatre classes?
According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, there are 5 core areas of competency in social/emotional learning; self-awareness; self management; social awareness; relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. Theatre offers the ideal playground for children and youth to practice and strengthen these competencies. (Lynn P Johnson)
We work with professional creative artists and actors to nurture, inspire and train young people to develop theatre craft that enriches them and changes their lives for the better.
Artistic Integrity – Professionalism – Fun
Friendship – Excellence – Respect
You need only speak to our parents and our students to understand the importance of what we do for our students. Our aim is to
- Give a child a sense of belonging that they haven’t found anywhere else
- Teach them how to interact with others, even when they disagree
- Build their confidence through practice and hard work
- Help them to make friends
- Give them a sense of achievement
- Teach them about disappointment (they didn’t get the lead role…)
- Help them to feel “normal” when the rest of the time they feel that they don’t ‘fit in’
- Give them a creative outlet for all of that energy that they might usually get into trouble for – set their imaginations on fire
- Accept and celebrate their difference and cultural diversity
- Celebrate their humour and their passion
- Make them happy
- Give them skills for life
Many drama schools focus on the performance or job outcome. At SAYarts we focus on the development of the whole person, in particular:
- Building resilience and confidence through making and surviving mistakes and through “having a go”
- Developing emotional literacy (EQ) – about themselves and others
- Teaching empathy and theory of mind – putting yourself in someone else’s shoes
- Theatre craft and stage craft – listening, moving, reacting, thinking, contributing, creating, giving, understanding
- Ensemble work (teamwork) – negotiating the spotlight, helping others shine, stepping up when needed, working in sync with others
- Public speaking and leadership skills – presence, confidence, timing, articulation
- Social skills and interactions – accepting feedback and direction, praising others, working with people who think and act differently
- Collaborative Problem solving – in our classes there is no wrong answer, just a better one or a better way
- Performance as a result of theatre-making and creativity
Our program is set in consultation with our students and tutors, teaching to the strengths, expertise and interests of our tutors. As students move through age groups they move through increments of craft and skill, improving and learning new levels of professionalism at each stage.
What begins as “games” in our Little Tackers classes, grows to be “exercises” the next levels up, until we reach “tools” and ‘stagecraft’ for our senior student ensembles such as On The Fringe and KINDRED.
Each set of classes aims to develop particular aspects of theatre craft – character development, understanding of the history of theatre, improvisation, voice, movement for actors, writing for the stage, bringing issues to life, deconstructing ideas, exploring subtext, wrestling with language, physical / hand eye coordination. All of these are transferable skills and many of our former students talk about the ways in which they use them in everyday lives such as in their careers as osteopaths, lawyers, teachers, directors and business owners.
Please find our relevant policies and codes here: