The story of Scene & Heard at Theatro Technis

Euston’s unique mentoring project, which pairs local kids with professional actors, writers and directors

The full company at Theatro Technis Scene & Heard


e recently popped to Crowndale Road’s sixty-year-old theatre, Theatro Technis, to a production of Sweet & Salty: The Tasty Plays by Scene & Heard, a unique mentoring project that sees local kids join forces with volunteer actors, writers and directors to create theatre.

Sat in the packed-out auditorium alongside parents, teachers and other (adult) spectators, we spent an hour and a half collectively belly-laughing at the weird and wonderful product of kids’ uninhibited imaginations.

Highlights included the tale of a walking, talking bowl of guinea fowl soup squaring up against Ronnie O’Sullivan in a snooker tournament, a love-starved porcupine desperately seeking amour in a post-apocalyptic Paris, and a fox and wifi box venturing into outer space together. Between shows – ten mini-productions run throughout the evening – we excitedly nattered amongst ourselves. We were all blown away by the, at times, very silly and jovial, at others, very perceptive and wise, theatre unfolding in front of us.

So how does it work? Local kids from Edith Neville and St Aloysius are referred by their primary schools. They attend weekly classes over a term that culminate in a writing weekend, where they are paired with a dramaturg and write a play together. Next, they interview their actors and write their plays with their performers in mind.

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Want the backstory?

Since its inception, this iconic building has been platforming crucial pieces of political theatre. Founded in 1957, in what was then the heart of London’s Cypriot community, the venue was created by actor, director and writer, George Eugeniou, who was born in ‘free Cyprus’ in 1931. At the time, the British colony was embroiled in a battle for self-rule and the space set to give voice to the struggles of the community.

The company’s founding principle was ‘from life to art, back to life,’ which signifies a ‘magic cycle of creativity and originality.’ So aside from producing and showcasing cutting-edge theatrical works, the space also looks to improve the awareness and well-being of its audiences. As Euston’s community has changed, Theatro’s mandate has evolved as it looks to serve the new diverse central London community – while maintaining its core philosophy.

They host a variety of plays from Classical Greek, Shakespeare, Chekhov and new writing by international artists. Earlier this year they showcased Jackie Walker’s The Lynching, the ex-Labour activist and former vice-chair of Momentum’s piece on her suspension from the party for anti-Semitism. There was Inferno, inspired by the myth of Prometheus, and Journeys Beyond, an original work exploring a woman’s dalliance with death inspired by traditional stories from Japan, Greece and the Caribbean. Finally, there’s a weekly film and photography club.

The child’s script is then passed to a team of professionals; two actors and a director, who create the production. They work alongside professional designers, technicians, composers and prop makers, and voilà the play hits the Theatro Technis stage at the end of each term.

“There is no other project like this in Britain. Theatre is a tool, the productions are a beautiful by-product of the work, which is to mentor children, to boost their self-esteem, to raise their aspirations,” says Rosalind Paul, Scene & Heard’s artistic director. “The heart of Scene & Heard is that children’s voices come out of adults’ mouths, giving those voices credence, value and a public platform for them to say whatever they want to say,” she says.

One of our highlights was seeing the kids sit in the audience watching their production. Some bit their fingernails in nervous anticipation, others took on the stance of a critic, their hand resting on their chin as they analysed how well the actors were delivering their work. As their piece drew to a close – and the theatre invariably broke into raucous applause – the seriousness instantly melted away. They left their seats and took to the stage where they stood between their actors, hand-in-hand as they took their bow. An inimitable feeling that, judging by the ear-to-ear smiles on their faces, could well see the next generation of British theatre-makers emerge from the heart of Somers Town.

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Next production is From A to Z – The Logical Plays (29th Nov – 2nd Dec). Tickets are free but there will be bucket shaking to support this necessary project. More info here. Theatro Technis, 26 Crowndale Road, NW1

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