The launch of Grand Arena Youth Theatre in collaboration with the Arena Theatre in September 2016 was a huge success! Available spaces sold out in 3 hours, and members are currently enjoying learning new drama techniques from our professional practitioners, everything from improvisation through to physical theatre.

Members work alongside two professional actors to improve their acting skills, and sessions focus on technique as well as working towards two shows a year. The Grand Arena Youth Theatre’s first performance called Check-In debuted at the Arena Theatre on Saturday 4th February 2017. This was a performance piece that reflected a term’s worth of exploration into playfulness, improvisation, physical theatre and devising. It explored social media and migration and examined what happens when these two worlds, the online and physical, collide.

The youth theatre’s second show was a showcase of their own devised pieces which were performed on Monday 17th July 2017. The third show was a piece about the rise of knife crime in under 16s and the consequences of using or carrying a knife. The piece was called Cutting Edge and was performed at the Arena Theatre on Monday 4th December 2017.

The latest show was hosted on the Grand Theatre stage on Monday 22nd May 2018 and was called Delivered Dozen – A Miners’ Tale.


With plenty of musical theatre and dance opportunities available locally to young people, Grand Arena Youth Theatre gives members a rare opportunity to devise their own dramatic pieces of work instead.

Weekly rehearsals take place on Monday evenings at the Arena Theatre on Wulfruna Street from 6pm – 7.30pm for Juniors (aged 9 – 13) and 8pm – 9.30pm for Seniors (aged 14 – 18).

To be added to the Summer Term Waiting List (June onward), please contact Creative Learning Assistant Libbie Doyle via email at with the name of the young person and their date of birth.


Fran Richards

Fran is the Senior Practitioner at Grand Arena Youth Theatre and also oversees Education and Outreach at the Arena Theatre. Fran has loved theatre from a young age and now has an extreme passion for small scale, devised and physical theatre especially that which is accessible to all. After receiving a first-class honours degree and the Jasmin Vardimon Award for Excellence in Physical Theatre whilst training, she began her career as a freelance Actor, working with companies including Birmingham REP, Shakespeare’s School Festival, Gazebo Theatre and Newave Arts.

Alex Turner

Alex graduated with a distinction from Circomedia, the UK’s leading institution for Contemporary Circus and Physical Theatre, in 2013.

Since then Alex has been performing globally, headlining multiple international comedy and performance festivals, primarily as a stage performer but he also holds a range of on screen credits.

Specialising in improvisation and devising, he makes his own shows to tour and works as a director and producer for other companies throughout the UK and Europe.