THE Belgrade Theatre, the first civic centre to be built in Britain right after WW2 has, over the years, become home to many genres of live theater performances and is now a symbol of optimism and culture in the city of Coventry, UK.
Working with young people from all walks of life, the theater uses drama as a tool to develop personal and social skills. The ‘Acting Out‘ programme which has been commissioned by Coventry’s Local Education Authority for the last 10 years has been one of Belgrade’s most successful projects.
Bassett is a play written by British playwright James Graham which features members of the Belgrade’s Year 11 Acting Out performance group. I had the chance to sit down with the Director, Jouvan Fucinni who talked about how his passion for Performing Arts led him to where he is now. Joining him where two cast members, Mackenzie Ascroft and Dion Dunne who play Kelly and Leo respectively.
A brief introduction about yourself and how you got into directing?
I got into directing at quite a young age, I was 17. I went to City College to study Performing Arts and while on the course I quickly realised I had lots of thoughts and opinions about what other people should be doing on stage and the fact that they were wrong and I was right. A director I was working with, Emma Fryer encouraged me to become a director and asked me to assist on one of her productions so I never looked back from then really.
From there, I went to drama school to study acting in Birmingham to fully grasp that craft; as an effective director you need to know how to work with actors and how actors think. After completing a degree in contemporary directing, I started working on youth productions and assisting on professional shows eventually becoming assistant director on one of the productions here at Belgrade. That’s really when my relationship with Belgrade Theater started.
For those that don’t know,what is the Acting Out Programme, what is it set out to do?
It’s a work-related programme that offers an opportunity for young people who may not be achieving their full potential in school for various reasons. They come here one day-a-week over 2 years to do a BTEC in Performing Arts, worth roughly 2 GCSES. This obviously has a big impact on their confidence levels, social skills as well as their performance levels. Usually, we see a positive impact on work back at school.
I didn’t like making new friends but the programme has definitely boosted my confidence and we all feel comfortable around each other. MacKenzie
Jouvan breaks down what Bassett is all about:
Basset is an incredible play that is free to attend from Thursday 1 – Saturday 3 May in the Belgrade’s B2 auditorium. If you are attending, you will be asked to make a donation at the end of the show. Donations will go back into the work of the Community & Education Company at the Belgrade.
*Please be aware Bassett contains strong language; Age recommendation 14+