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Theatre company hopes donation scheme will double the difference for youngsters with anxiety

25 Mar 2024 5 minute read
You’ve Got Dragons, Taking Flight Theatre

An award-winning accessible Welsh theatre company is calling for donations under a scheme which will double all contributions in a bid to raise £10,000 in a week.

Taking Flight Theatre Company is participating in the Big Give Arts for Impact campaign which will match any donations up until midday on Tuesday 26 March.

These funds will be used for the accessible outreach programme for You’ve Got Dragons/Mae Gen Ti Ddreigiau to make double the difference in supporting Deaf, disabled and non-disabled young people and their families to develop strategies for managing anxiety.

This summer, Taking Flight will launch a new production of You’ve Got Dragons/Mae Gen Ti Ddreigiau adapted by Yoto Carnegie medal-winning writer Manon Steffan Ros, with a tour that will take in venues across Wales. 

A delightful tale of one child’s journey to come to terms with their dragons told in Taking Flight’s unique inclusive style. With live, original music, this highly visual, sensitive production is a humorous and touching exploration of the dragons we all face.

Featuring creative captioning, interwoven BSL and audio description, You’ve Got Dragons/Mae Gen Ti Ddreigiau is described as a treat for the whole family.

Youth theatre

As well as their touring productions and access consultancy work. Taking Flight also runs Wales’ only youth theatre for Deaf and hard of hearing young people. With added access and language barriers, 57% of Deaf young people are likely to struggle with their mental health.

Louise Ralph, executive director at Taking Flight said: “Evidence from mental health experts shows that young people in ever increasing numbers are struggling with their mental health.

“You’ve Got Dragons/Mae Gen Ti Ddreigiau is adapted from a gorgeous book by Kathryn Cave and Nick Maland that helps young people to face up to their concerns and anxieties.

“The money raised in the Big Give will help us to roll out a fully accessible free workshop programme to accompany the tour, meaning that young people watching the show can spend time afterwards creatively developing their own coping strategies for when their worries feel unmanageable”.

Role models

Participation, Access and Inclusion Officer, Steph Bailey-Scott, who is Deaf and disabled, runs Taking Flight youth theatre; she explains: “Often society focuses on what Deaf and disabled people CAN’T do. There is a lack of visible positive Deaf and disabled role models and through youth theatre we have seen that isolation and lack of self-worth in Deaf kids is endemic.

“Accessible family theatre is rare, maybe one accessible performance per run, limiting opportunities for families to enjoy theatre together.  You’ve Got Dragons/Mae Gen Ti Ddreigiau and our Dragon Taming workshops have access built in.

“Everyone’s welcome and gains a vocabulary to discuss mental health with young children, with tools to take control of dragons whilst also finding positive Deaf and disabled role models.

“These workshops really help to combat anxiety. The funding will also enable rehearsal visits and touch tours reducing barriers to audiences, as well as relaxed performances with chill-out spaces to ease anxiety for all-age neurodivergent audiences. With integrated BSL, creative captions and live music, You’ve Got Dragons/Mae Gen Ti Ddreigiau makes it safe and OK to talk about our feelings.”

Dragon taming

Artistic Director Elise Davison adds: “Taking Flight prides itself on creating bold, inclusive theatre that smashes down barriers. We’re passionate about creating accessible, inspiring theatre and opening up conversations and reducing stigma around childhood mental health for children of all backgrounds.

“Dragon Taming workshops will take place at every tour venue and in schools – arts-based mindfulness reaching around 1,500 young people and families, making it OK to not be OK.

“It’s essential to us that You’ve Got Dragons/Mae Gen Ti Ddreigiau increases the visibility of Deaf and disabled creatives working both on and backstage, presenting real role models and increasing aspiration and a sense of the possible.

“If you can’t see it you can’t be it, and too many young people never see themselves represented in media or high achieving roles.

“This year we’re looking to raise a total of £10,000. In order to access the £5000 we have in the Big Give matching pot, we need to raise £5000 in online donations. We hope everyone will give generously this year to help us reach our target and enable us to carry on the work we all feel so passionately about”.

You’ve Got Dragons, Taking Flight Theatre

● Visit and make a donation before midday on Tuesday 26 March.

The dates and locations for the 2024 tour are:

22 & 25-27 June Pontio, Bangor

2-5 July Blaengarw Workmen’s Hall

9-13 July Ffwrnes, Llanelli

16-20 July Chapter, Cardiff

24-27 July Riverfront, Newport

Contact venues for times & language options and visit Taking Flight for more information.

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