Meet Arcola: Youth Theatre facilitator Lerato Islam

As we prepare to open Arcola Outside, we will be spending the next few weeks going behind the scenes at Arcola to introduce you to some of the freelancers, artists and staff who make it all happen. This week, we caught up with Lerato Islam who is one of our Youth Theatre facilitators now leading our groups of 9-12 year olds and 13-15 year olds weekly over Zoom.

Hi Lerato! Maybe you could start by telling us a bit about yourself. What do you get up to when you’re not facilitating Arcola Youth Theatre?

I’m an Applied Theatre practitioner specialising in using drama as a tool for linguistic and psychosocial support with young refugees and new migrants. I deliver this work in schools and colleges across Brent (although online for now!), as well as for a couple of NGOs and charities.  I also design curriculums for these cohorts, incorporating ESOL with life skills.

In my free time, I love cooking and a bit of Netflix!

How long have you been working with Arcola for?

I started at the Arcola in January 2017, as a volunteer. After that Spring term, I started facilitating, and have been here ever since!

What are you most looking forward to about this upcoming term with the Youth Theatre?

I’m really looking forward to just seeing my group again. Having worked with some of the young people for almost three years, our abrupt stop last March was hard for me. I’m really looking forward to seeing them all again, and hearing about what they’ve been up to all this time.

The theme for this term is Today I’m Wiser, can you tell us a bit about this and what you will be focusing on?

I really enjoy making theatre that is socially engaged, so we will be focusing on the change the young people want to see in the world. They are a very clever and engaged bunch, and I’m certain they will have some brilliant ideas around this topic.

Youth Theatre sessions will be run online for the foreseeable future. How do you think this will change the sessions?

Of course, it’s easy to think about all the ways in which we are limited by running sessions online… but I do think it has some advantages too! Zoom has some fun features like polls, chat boxes, breakout rooms, so we will be able to explore different methods to approach theatre and devising work. In short, I like to think we are all up-skilling.

What is the most exciting part about working with young creatives?

I love to hear their perspectives, the unique ways in which they see the world and how this informs the work they make. I have just as much to learn from them as they can learn from me, and I love to be in a co-learning environment.

Arcola Youth Theatre will present work as part of Arcola’s 2021 festival, Today I’m Wiser. Find out more »

Learn more about our Youth Theatre »