Young people’s theatre company celebrates 10 years

Award-winning theatre company 20 Stories High is excited to announce a jam-packed programme of events to celebrate their 10th year.

Set up in 2006 by Julia Samuels and Keith Saha, the local charity – kick-started with investment as part of Liverpool’s Capital of Culture – has been sticking firmly to their belief that ‘Everybody’s got a story to tell, and their own way of telling it.’

And during that time the company has developed a unique approach bringing together their work with young people from excluded communities alongside emerging & world-class artists.

Co-Artistic Director Keith Saha says: “Everything that we do is in response to the stories we hear from the young people we work with.

Their voices and their passions are reflected in the work we create to tour the UK.

“We tour to small & mid scale theatre venues, schools, libraries, hostels, secure units in fact there is no space we feel like we can’t go to. From big, full-on, all singing, all dancing, Hip-Hop extravaganzas, to bespoke intimate one person shows in tiny spaces.”

In recent years, the charity has been reaching an average of 2,400 young people per year from culturally diverse communities in Liverpool and across the UK, engaging them in free creative activities that develop their skills, employability and confidence.

The company’s approach, simultaneously creating theatre for and with young people both locally and nationally, has seen it receive a string of prestigious awards as well as significant continued investment from Arts Council England and Liverpool City Council. Co-Artistic Director Julia Samuels says:

“Sometimes I have to pinch myself, I can’t believe it’s all happened. We have had such an incredible 10 years, collaborating with so many inspiring young people and amazing artists to create work we are really, really proud of. We are so grateful to our funders and partners for their commitment to us,and making this all possible”

Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member for culture, tourism and events Councillor Wendy Simon champions the company’s unique approach:

“20 Stories High represent everything theatre should be: accessible, thought provoking, thought leading and socially responsible. Both the work they put on stage and the work they do with young people is exemplary – we are very lucky to have them here in our city.”

The last ten years has seen the company grow from a small, local youth theatre of around 25 local young people headed by Saha and Samuels, into a key player on the national stage, with high-profile recognition as one of the UK’s top young people’s theatre makers. Saha says:

 ‘Ten years ago, we could never have imagined we’d be where we are now. It’s a real testament to the power of our work when people you know and respect in the industry are citing you as a top-player in the world of young people’s theatre in the UK.’

But the company still likes to keep things grounded and true to its roots in Liverpool.

Samuels reflects: ‘Whilst we’re extremely proud of the national recognition we now receive, we’re even more proud of the impact we’ve had on the young people of Liverpool we’ve worked with over the years. They tell us time and time again about how their confidence has increased and how they are able to take up new

opportunities they wouldn’t have dreamed of before. And we’ve had young people with us right from the beginning who are now being employed as professional artists and members of the staff team, as well as Board members – it’s been an incredible journey.”

And it seems the young people they work with agree. Dorcas, 19, has been a part of the company since 2012:

“Since joining 20 Stories High I have had the chance to meet, work with and learn from so many people I wouldn’t have done otherwise. I have learnt how to perform the poetry I write as well as learning new skills like puppetry and physical theatre and I’ve also become the Chair of the Youth Board.

“I love the fact that being a member of 20 Stories doesn’t just stop at the end of the weekly sessions – we can always pop in the office to ask staff for advice or support, do homework, apply for jobs. Everything we do is supported by staff, its brill and it brings us all closer making us a family – it sounds cheesy but it’s true!”

The company is delighted to announce a programme of ten events and announcements to celebrate its 10th birthday. These include: 

The company is delighted to announce a programme of ten events and announcements to celebrate its 10th birthday. These include:

  1. The Broke ‘N’ Beat Collective national theatre tour in co-production with Theatre-Rites
  2. Liverpool ONE youth theatre flashmob this February
  3. The launch of Thursday Night Mic Club for young people in Toxteth this February
  4. The launch of a brand new website
  5. The creation of a 10th birthday celebration film
  6. Developing local talent by hosting a local emerging director on the prestigious Regional10th birthday mash-up show in June Theatre Young Director Scheme
  1. HEADZ monologues re-tour in the autumn
  2. The launch of a much anticipated Young Writers Programme
  3. The launch of a Friends of 20 Stories High membership donation scheme