Youth theatre group create coronavirus time capsule project

A charity set up by members of a London youth theatre has developed a project that allows young people to record and share their experiences of life during the coronavirus lockdown.

Young people are recording their experiences of lockdown. Picture: Company Three/YouTube
Young people are recording their experiences of lockdown. Picture: Company Three/YouTube

Name: Coronavirus Time Capsule

Provider: Islington Youth Theatre and Company Three

The Covid-19 pandemic has seen children and young people across the world isolated from their social networks as up to half the world’s population was at one point placed in lockdown unable to meet up with friends in a physical sense.

For many young people, communicating through social media, video calling and mobile messaging services are second nature, but these are not always the best mediums for open and honest discussion about how they are feeling. To help young people put words to their feelings during these unprecedented times, members of youth theatre Company Three have created a project for young people across the world to post video diaries on a specially created platform to document their experiences to include in a Coronavirus Time Capsule.

Company Three is a group of 75 young people aged 12-19 that is led by a team of professional theatre-makers based in Islington, North London, which aims to give teenagers the space to tell their own stories and create their own change.

The Coronavirus Time Capsule is a major part of the theatre company’s response to the pandemic as it utilises online methods to stay in touch with young people and ensure they can express themselves.

“We are doing it because we think it is essential that we continue to offer the teenagers we work with support, connection and a space to be creative,” the company states.

Company Three has written a blueprint setting out the parameters of the project, how young people can engage with it and what will then be done with the video diaries once they have been created. It is making the blueprint available free so that other youth theatres, educational institutions, student drama groups, amateur companies and community-arts projects who have closed because of the coronavirus can use it to develop their own project to document the experiences of the young people they work with.

So-far it has shared three-weeks worth of videos made by young people in lockdown.

“We are inviting groups everywhere to make their own video Time Capsule, an expression of what it is like to be a teenager during the pandemic,” it states. “We are openly sharing our practice by making this blueprint and the resources that support it.

“We want to use this opportunity to connect with groups working with young people at a time of global crisis. We hope by all doing the project together we will better support our group members and ensure that teenagers are heard during this emergency.”

The time capsule is a cumulative project in that each week individual young people respond to a topic and make a 15-second video giving their view. These are then collated and edited together by a group leader. The same process happens every week, with new videos added to the original ones, so that the time capsule develops as the pandemic develops and evolves. Topics covered by Company Three so far include ‘boredom’ and ‘home life’.

The theatre company is publishing its time capsule every Friday, but says other groups could do this less frequently. Time capsules can be published publicly online or on private networks.

“We think people should listen to teenagers, so the more public videos, the better,” Company Three states. “Each group will make and distribute their own Time Capsule, but eventually we hope to find a way to collect them all together in one place, as a way of marking and remembering this extraordinary period in our shared history.”

The project has been inspired by a new play the company has been making called Everything, which is about a group of teenagers create a time capsule live on stage as a response to global uncertainty and climate emergency that it hopes to perform later in the year – and which other youth theatres can develop their own versions of.

The blueprint sets out how to run the project and what equipment and skills are needed.

Participation in Action - My View

Young people from Company Three: “This is a time capsule…it is a record of our lives right now…it’s a record of our lives when the coronavirus came…when all the schools shut down and we all had to stay inside…stuck in our homes in a place called Islington…in London, in the UK, in Europe, in the world.”

“For the next few weeks, maybe months, no one knows how long, really….we’re not going anywhere…some of us are filming ourselves every week…so that we’ll remember what it was like…what we did…and what we didn’t do…and how we felt. Because this hasn’t happened before…and it might never happen again.”

“This is our Coronavirus Time Capsule, and it starts…now.”


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