Young people in the Forest of Dean will once again have the stage to themselves, thanks to a generous Arts Council grant and the arrival of a new youth theatre director, Abi Wright. The much-missed ‘Found in the Forest’ youth theatre is set to make a comeback this October half-term after a four-year hiatus.

Abi Wright, a Forest native who participated in youth theatre herself, expressed her enthusiasm for her new role. “I’m really looking forward to it. Youth theatre is a fantastic opportunity to meet new people, act, and simply be able to be silly in a safe space,” she said.

The programme was initially run by local arts charity Arts in Rural Gloucestershire (Air in G) for 13 years but had to close its curtains in 2019 due to lack of funding. Now, with renewed support, the theatre will reopen with two free ‘Plays in a Day’ events at The Wesley, a community and arts centre managed by Cinderford Town Council. These events, open to young people and audiences free of charge, will feature a play that is devised, rehearsed, and performed all in one day.

Beyond these events, the theatre will offer weekly drama classes on Saturdays during term-time, providing ample opportunities for local youth to perform in and around the community. “Theatre is a way of gaining valuable life skills, to have a creative outlet and be part of exciting new ventures,” Abi added.

The Wesley Arts Centre in Cinderford, which will house the new youth theatre, has recently been refurbished, including a reroofing project and the installation of solar panels, funded by the Forest of Dean’s £20 million Levelling Up Fund.

Interested in joining a free ‘Play in a Day’ this October half-term or the Saturday classes? Email Abi at [email protected] to secure your place. Classes start from 11th November, with sessions for 8-12-year-olds from 10am-12pm, and 1-3pm for 13-18-year-olds.