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The Youth Theatre

click for more info.One 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.

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Website Updated July 2005