‘Theatre Troupe is genuinely transformative for young people. It keeps alive an entire community of people cooperating and sharing together towards a common goal.’ (volunteer, 2019)
What we do
We offer community workshop programmes and bespoke projects in schools and other settings for young people with acute and complex mental distress as a result of trauma.
When young people join a Theatre Troupe project, they become part of a “Troupe” (theatre company). During the length of a project (usually a year), they have the chance to get involved in all aspects of theatre, including acting, directing, writing, composing and set and costume design. Each Troupe models an alternative family, which acts as a nurturing unit, giving young people a place to belong and heal.
Our workshops are highly supported so we can work with the most vulnerable young people. We have an onsite therapist. Each child has a one to one volunteer mentor who offers artistic and emotional support, and we provide wraparound provision of food and transport to mitigate against social and economic marginalisation.
Based on our conviction and experience that the power of theatre is a means of self-expression, and a way to explore and understand interpersonal relationships, our work has a specific methodology and research base that is informed by Attachment Theory and neurobiological attunement.
Theatre Troupe was founded in 2015 by participatory theatre makers Natasha Bergg and Emily Hunka. After her MA: Applied Theatre at Royal Central School of Speech & Drama, Natasha established a specialist practice called Connect, Play, Create (CPC!) which used improvisation, physical theatre and clowning to work with marginalised young people in southern Utah, USA, and also worked for Big Wheel Theatre Company delivering interactive workshops for schools across Europe and the UK, and adult masterclasses for clients such as the NHS.
Emily worked for a decade as a facilitator, director and playwright in applied theatre, founding Rewrite, a charity working to raise awareness about refugees and asylum seekers through drama and creative writing in 2000, and for Greenwich & Lewisham Young People’s Theatre (GLYPT – now Tramshed) as Refugee Voices Project Leader and, later, as Associate Director (Diversity & Inclusion). Natasha and Emily met at GLYPT when developing Whatever Makes You Happy, a programme for young people with mental health problems. It was through this partnership and combined knowledge and experience that Theatre Troupe was born.
Theatre Troupe originally aimed to work with young people with mild to moderate mental health problems. However, initial referrals from CAMHS and other services surprisingly tended to be those with serious issues. This, we found out, was because they were difficult to place in other youth activities and groups due to their high distress and risky behaviour. We found that most were unwell because of the impact of abuse, neglect or domestic violence. We therefore developed a specialist way of working, underpinned by gathering research about attachment theory and trauma through Emily’s PhD project, which was completed in 2020.
After six years as joint CEO, Co-Artistic Director and later Executive Director, Natasha is now Participation Manager for Told by An Idiot and continues to deliver arts practice with marginalised young people across the UK.
Natasha’s role is now held by Rachel D’Cruze, (former Managing Director at Sydenham Arts). Rachel joins us from her former Managing Director role at Sydenham Arts where she was the creative and operational lead for their multi-arts programme of events. A passion for the Arts is reflected in an early career in television, film and theatre. Experienced in producing high quality events, developing audiences, and with a genuine commitment to working with under-represented communities whilst building a reputation for quality and innovation.