WEST SIDE STORY and LEAP CONFRONTING CONFLICT Present Youth Workshop
The producers of WEST SIDE STORY, playing at Sadler's Wells until 22 September before a nationwide tour, have partnered with the youth charity Leap Confronting Conflict, to run a workshop together for young Londoners exploring the musical's gang and race related conflict issues. Following the success of the workshop, there are now plans to roll out further outreach workshops whilst the musical tours the country during the coming year.
The 90-minute workshop took place on Thursday 29 August 2013 at the Three Mills Studios in East London, and was led by WEST SIDE STORY's Director and Choreographer Joey McKneely and UK Tour cast members including the Jet boys and the Shark boys. They worked alongside two of Leap's Young Trainers Kareem Maizi and Natasha Aldonza. Both Kareem and Natasha have progressed through Leap's conflict resolution programmes to become paid freelance trainers delivering workshops to other young people and adults, using their own experiences of gang activity and racial conflict to support more young people to transform their lives. Alongside this, Kareem is starting a degree in Youth Work and Natasha is studying for a degree in Sports Science.
A group of young people from Leap's flagship Quarrel Shop programme formed the audience. This programme enables them to gain greater awareness of themselves in conflict and trains them to become peer facilitators so they can deliver conflict resolution workshops to other young people.
The participants watched the WEST SIDE STORY cast members perform excerpts from the "Prologue" and "Rumble" scenes, before exploring the issues of gangs and conflict within the show and discussing parallels and differences within their own lives in London.
Based on Romeo and Juliet, WEST SIDE STORY is set on Manhattan's Upper West Side and explores the rivalry between two teenage gangs; one white, the other Puerto Rican. When Tony falls in love with Maria, the sister of the rival gang's leader, the feud takes on a new dimension, and as their love blossoms so begins a fatal journey overshadowed by violence and hatred.
Established in 1987, Leap aims to prevent the escalation of everyday conflicts into destructive behaviour and violence by giving young people and the professionals who work with them to give them the understanding of the causes and consequences of conflict and the skills and confidence to effectively manage challenging situations. Two years on from the riots which shocked the nation, Leap believes it is important to highlight how many young people are acting as positive role models in our society.
The international sell out hit WEST SIDE STORY runs at Sadler's Wells until 22 September, before opening its UK tour at the Liverpool Empire on Tuesday 24 September 2013. The full tour schedule can be found at www.westsidestorytheshow.co.uk. The show is directed and choreographed by Joey McKneely using the full original Jerome Robbins choreography. WEST SIDE STORY originally directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, has a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein with Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.
Leading the UK cast will be Katie Hall as 'Maria', Louis Maskell as 'Tony', Djalenga Scott as 'Anita' and Jack Wilcox as 'Riff'. The rest of the company includes Bruce Aguilar-Rohan, Charlotte Baptie, Challyce Brogdon, Charlie Cameron, Danielle Cato, Javier Cid, Nicola Coates, Rachel Crocker, Matthew Croke, David Delve, Lisa Dent, Rachel Ensor, Fraser Fraser, Sergio Giacomelli, Matthew Hawksley, Dom Hodson, Liam Paul Jennings, Devon McKenzie Smith, Alex Pinder, Scott Rayner, Sam Salter, Katie Singh, Sergi Terns, Fenia Tsikitikou, Sion Tudor Owen and Niko Wirachman.