Theatre’s key role to play

The launch of a new youth drama group in Bendigo is highlighting the important role theatre plays with teenagers.

Bendigo Theatre Company this week launched Tribe – a youth theatre program for secondary-school aged students – which is an extension of the theatre company that was founded in 1953.

Tribe is the second youth theatre group in Bendigo with Nexus Bendigo Youth Theatre forming in 2010 for children in years 7 to 12.

BTC president John Murray said Tribe would foster an environment of teamwork while providing mentorship and a training ground for secondary school-aged children.

“To participate in theatre teaches a lot of discipline,” John said.

“Students learn self control and creative problem solving in a safe, collaborative environment. No other art form is more collaborative than drama.”

John has been involved in community theatre for 30 years and is a secondary school drama teacher.

“Even a small production with a handful of actors will have a large creative and backstage team working to put the show on the stage,” he said.

“Everyone involved has to work to bring about the director’s vision, and that is an extremely collaborative process.”

As well as an annual musical production, Tribe will develop young aspiring performers and help enhance their performance, technical and backstage skills in a community theatre environment.

Workshops, showcases and performances will also be offered throughout the year while a new generation of lighting designers, stage managers, set builders and sound engineers will also get their foundation as part of Tribe.

Nexus Bendigo Youth Theatre 2017 Reveal

Capital Venues and Events’ Kyrilee Bodin was part of BTC’s Horizons Drama School in the 1990s.

She went on to study stage management at the Victorian College of the Arts after discovering the career potential in theatre.

“As a teenager, I didn’t know that there were paying jobs available to people in theatre,” Kyrilee said.

“Participating in theatre as a teen is where I made lifelong friends and now I work as a professional stage manager.

“I look forward to meeting the next generation of stage managers through Tribe.”

BTC committee member and Tribe facilitator Kristen Beever said she looked forward to further developing the youth theatre community.

“We arranged to meet with Julie Lovell and Janelle Rotherham to explain that our ambition was to generate more opportunities for people to get involved, not to take participants away from Nexus,” she said.

“Nexus could not have been more generous and supportive. They were just wonderful. We came away feeling incredibly positive and excited about the potential to cross promote and support each other."

BTC secretary Mary White said she was excited at the potential to collaborate with Nexus.

“Nexus is so established and well resourced. We look forward to working with Nexus to bring the best possible youth theatre to Bendigo,” she said.

“Bendigo’s youth only stand to gain from having another avenue to participate in community theatre.”

Nexus director Julie Lovell said it was terrific that another youth theatre group was developing.

“It’s about supporting the arts and creating a community where we can celebrate theatre together,” she said.

“Tribe are also looking offer things aren’t musical which is great because not everyone wants to be in a musical.

“We look forward to sharing resources and ideas with each other.

“My son is very excited to be involved. It’s not about one against the other, it has to be a collaborated creation and it is really exciting.”

Julie founded Nexus in 2010 when there was no other youth theatre programs in the region. Nexus’ first production was Beauty and the Beast.

“There was nothing like it at the time for young people,” she said.

“We 24 kids and about 10 or 15 volunteers (for Beauty and the Beast) and we now run a cast between 50 to 76, which is how many we had for The Music Man (in 2014).

“(Behind the scenes) we also have at least 100 volunteers in different capacities. It has just taken off.

“Our current leadership team started as cast but now help run costumes, sets and program development.” 

But aside from putting on a great show, Julie said community should be the focus for youth theatre groups.

“Nexus isn't just about the production. Getting kids feeling good and feeling that they belong is key. It's critical,” she said.

“I find (youth theatre) helps build confidence and community (belonging). It helps strip down barriers that teenagers seem to put on themselves. 

“Things like of social expectations and difference of opinion, theatre strips that back and allows creative people to come together and share something.

“It develops and encourages people and allows people express themselves and who they are from the inside out.”

Nexus has already been busy this year casting and rehearsing it’s July-August production – The Phantom of the Opera.

“We are the first youth theatre group in the southern hemisphere to do Phantom. It has been done twice in Australia by community groups and they were both in Victoria in 2013,” Julie said.

“It is unbelievable, I’m just loving it. The cast is fantastic and the lead singers are to die for.

“It is just ridiculous how talented the youth in this area are.”

  • Nexus Bendigo Youth Theatre’s production of The Phantom of the Opera is on at The Capital July 27 to 29 and August 3 to 5. Visit for details.
  • Bendigo Theatre Company’s Tribe will hold an information day for their first production – Barnum – at the Arts Shed in Allingham Street, Golden Square, on April 29, from 5pm. Head to for details.