“We had a fab time today. I was so happy George made it through his first musical performance - although he was noisy!  He loved the music, singing and dancing and if it wasn't for Mousetrap I would never had have had the courage to bring him"

August may seem like a quiet time for an education charity, with many people on holiday and school out for summer, but Mousetrap has been as busy as the heatwave-hit beach! 38 young people took part in our Summerstage drama school project at the start of the month, with 31 gaining their Bronze Arts Award- a formally recognised qualification that will count towards entry onto training and courses they may choose in the future.

Two Summerstage groups worked for a week each with a director, dance and music practitioners, creating a performance piece based around the theme of dreams - what do we dream about for our futures when we’re awake, and what does our subconscious dream of when we sleep? We were pleased to welcome project funders and participants’ families to showcases at the end of each week, at which the young people performed evocative dance and movement, atmospheric soundscapes, and punchy monologues and dialogue.

Our Youth Engagement Manager, Jenny, has been going above and beyond to deliver not just two weeks of Summerstage and their intensive Arts Award programme, but also a summer holiday StageXchange project in Sutton. Practitioners have been working there with a young carers’ group, helping attendees develop their confidence and access and express emotions healthily through discussion and roleplay. Young carers can be some of our most emotionally vulnerable participants - they feel a huge responsibility to their cared-for relative, as well as facing the social and academic pressures any other young person faces. Our projects give them a place in which to step outside of the carer role, relate and socialise with other young people in similar situations, and focus (often for the first time in a long time) on their own goals, wants and expressions of self, without guilt. The impact was visible:

“One young lady had high anxiety and was visibly shaky. Their Youth Worker, Shukri, informed me that these drama sessions had been a big step for her as she has low self-esteem. The young lady gave feedback for others and was vocal within her groups when devising, and I am told this was out of character for her. I’m so pleased she felt able to do this.”- Practitioner Kirsten

“They loved the games and the drama too. Some had it in their mind at first that drama is not for them. There was growth with challenge.”- Shukri, Youth Worker

We rounded the month off with another wonderful relaxed performance, hosted by the Lyric Theatre at a performance of Bugsy Malone. 116 families of children with special needs- over 450 people in total- attended the show, were free to move and make sound as they needed throughout, and were wowed by the young cast, who even demonstrated their noisy, messy splurge guns for us before the show! Many families shared their joy with us in feedback after the show:

“Many of the young people who come to these performances have become friends or known faces to my daughter. It was lovely to see my daughter go into the foyer and for it to become a social situation where she was greeted by many friends! They were so happy to see each other, it was so lovely to see and this is not something that I have seen before.”

“Thank you again for allowing us to enjoy a day out without any judgement, burdens and tears!”

“We had a fab time today. I was so happy George made it through his first musical performance - although he was noisy!  He loved the music, singing and dancing and if it wasn't for Mousetrap I would never had have had the courage to bring him! See you at the next one!”

The summer has been so full, and we can’t believe the new academic year is almost here. We’re looking forward to a whole new wave of in-school projects, and bringing theatre magic to a whole lot more first-time Mousetrap participants!