The Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble has been working with the Brisbane Youth Education and Training Centre at Wacol since 2018, providing a range of workshops for the young residents.  Much of our work with Youth Justice involves a combination of Shakespeare text and drama games, particularly games drawn from the canon of Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed.  Similar to QSE’s work with the Shakespeare Prison Project, the games and activities create an atmosphere of trust and emotional safety, and the text work enables participants to find their voice and give words to their experiences. 

Youth Justice Project

Beginning as a two-week pilot programme which then evolved into a three-week short course, QSE’s Youth Justice Project has worked with both teenage boys and girls at BYETC.  The project is grounded in team work and ensemble building, with games and text work stirring imagination and self-confidence, culminating in the sharing of a short performance (often an adapted/abridged play) for invited friends and family.  Previous performances have included:

  • Romeo & Juliet
  • Twelfth Night
  • King John
  • Macbeth
  • The Seven Ages of Man

The sense of play, openness and encouragement of teaching-artists has inspired some participants to sign up for multiple workshops. Here is some of the feedback we’ve received:

“The boys got a lot out of the check-in circle – we don’t always talk about our feelings.”

“Thank you for believing in us!”

“We should have a drama session everyday.”

Acting Up! – Find your voice through play

Acting Up! is a series of short theatre workshops that QSE often runs at the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre during the school holidays.  Focusing more on scene work, using games to build connection and find the freedom to engage with each other and the text, Acting Up! is a fun way for teenage participants to engage the mind, body and voice and perhaps learn a Shakespearean insult or two!

QSE’s work in Youth Justice has also seen our Shakespeare’s Shorts team perform at the centre, providing a fast, fun, live engagement with Shakespeare.  In 2019, the Instant Romeo & Juliet team ran a number of performances.  In most cases it was the very first time our young audience had experienced a Shakespeare performance.  This was followed by a Q & A with the cast and our teaching-artists, and then a series of our Acting Up! workshops.  In this way, the young residents were able to see a show, talk with the actors and then expand their experience into a personal exploration of the text, characters and themes.