IT has been very interesting to see the reaction in the local and national press to the recent staged fight by the St Ives Youth Theatre (SIYT) to promote its forthcoming production of Romeo and Juliet. It would seem that the quiet market town of St Ives
IT has been very interesting to see the reaction in the local and national press to the recent staged fight by the St Ives Youth Theatre (SIYT) to promote its forthcoming production of Romeo and Juliet.
It would seem that 'the quiet market town of St Ives' (to quote the Daily Mail) was not quite prepared for such an event and was momentarily stopped in its tracks.
However, given the fact that the actors were using Shakespearean language, other group members were handing out fliers, its artistic director, Jonathan Salt, was present and the police had been made aware of what was planned, a lot of thought had actually gone into ensuring that the public quickly realised that this was staged.
It is of course very regrettable that, in spite of this, a few people were shocked or offended by what happened: this was certainly not the intent of the Youth Theatre, which immediately issued a sincere apology.
Perhaps the SIYT got it a little bit wrong this time and will, as Jonathan Salt himself has said, learn from their mistake. But this should not mean that we lose sight of what they so often get right. This is a group of 60 boys and girls aged 11-17 who meet on a weekly basis to pool their considerable talents and who then, twice a year, stage some amazingly professional productions, often confronting a variety of current contentious issues.
I have just witnessed a group of them today in a local supermarket offering to assist with bag-packing as part of their fundraising to take their recent production of Vision to the Edinburgh Fringe festival this summer. It was a pleasure to watch them chatting with customers, old and young, the great majority of whom were extremely supportive.
It is surely so important that any initiative in our town, which promotes dialogue between the generations and keeps our young people active and interested in positive pursuits, is not dampened in any way.
The recent staged fight in St Ives town centre may not have gone quite as planned, but let's keep sight of the bigger picture and support Jonathan Salt's tireless and commendable work with these young people. They could, after all, be making much worse mistakes.