The Youth Theatre
theme of the South Shields Trades Union Council was to encourage
alternatives to traditional employment. It supported and promoted
alternative activities such as job-exchanges, co-operatives, and
further education on benefits or grants. With wide spread unemployment
and the collapse of the traditional apprenticeships it is not surprising
that these alternative activities were widespread and innovative.
One such venture which became entangled with the Trades Union Council
was the South Shields Youth Theatre.
The Youth Theatre was formed in 1966 and was
composed mainly of students, 6th formers, and young unemployed.
They engaged in many dubious activities, often supported by the
SSTUC, and on one notable occasion they succeeded, unwittingly,
in serving an audience which included the Mayor and civic dignitaries
with coffee laced with police fingerprint powder.
The full story of the Youth Theatre must be
left to a more courageous writer. It will suffice here to say that
many of its members went on to quite legitimate careers - and some
to work in the professional theatre. Notably one, Edward Wilson,
went on to become Director of the National Youth Theatre.
Although the Youth Theatre was not trade union
based their views, and chiefly their attitude, had a close affinity
with that of the SSTUC, and they contributed greatly to the spirit
of that period.