The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader

The Voyage Of The Dawn TreaderPresented by Riding LIghts Junior Youth Theatre
adapted by Ian Birkinshaw from the novel by C.S. Lewis

Come on board the Dawn Treader and watch Lucy, Edmund and their rather annoying cousin, Eustace, encounter the enchanting world of Narnia.

Luckily Lucy, Edmund and Eustace fall into the capable hands of Prince Caspian and his band of merry sailors. They join his perilous quest to find seven missing lords, friends of his dead father. All is not plain sailing, who knows where their swashbuckling adventure will lead them. Are you prepared to find out?

Thursday 27 – Saturday 29 March:

Tickets: £7 / £5 (concessions) / £4 (Youth Theatre Members)
Box Office: 01904 613000 or book online

Please note there is a £1.50 per transaction charge if booking online. There is no transaction charge if booking by phone or in person through the Riding Lights Box Office. If you would like your tickets posted to you then there is a 50p charge to cover postage costs

Minute by Minute: A Rehearsed Reading at the Quaker Meeting House

HMD cover 2014Come hear the voices of a hidden chapter of York’s history. Discover a small dedicated group of ordinary people who turned York into a city of refuge for many refugees fleeing the onset of WW2. Including many children who arrived through the Kindertransport Scheme

Performed in the very room in which the committee met, this is a rehearsed reading of a play inspired by the minutes taken by the York Refugee Committee between 1939 and 1941. Originally devised by the Riding Lights Senior Youth Theatre Company it uses the terminology of their minute book to tell the disjointed and sometimes mysterious stories of these arrivals.

From 6.45pm the York Quakers will be serving soup and tea. This will lead in to the rehearsed reading at 7.20pm.  There will be a Q & A after the performance.

Sunday 26 January: 6.45pm (for a 7.20pm reading)
Quaker Meeting House, Friargate, York, YO1 9RL

Tickets are free, call 01904 613000 to reserve a place

Donations will be taken for Riding Lights Youth Theatre. Please note this is a rehearsed reading, not a production.

The Jungle Book

The Jungle BookForget Disney! This December our Senior Youth Theatre hit the stage with John Hartoch’s vividly dark adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.

Come be whisked away deep into the Indian jungle and journey with Mowgli as he encounters a host of charming characters. But one lurks waiting in the shadows. Shere Khan, his eyes never leaving the man cub in this idyllic place.

Into the Jungle comes fear and Mowgli must turn his back on those who have protected and taught him, so that he can overcome his greatest foe. It is a fight to the death; one that can restore the order of the Jungle, but more importantly it is the journey of a boy to discover who he is.

This promises to be a gripping tale. Come and see the Seniors tackle the physicality and energy of the jungle. Be swept away in a story that we all know and love, but be prepared to see it in a whole new light.

Thursday 12th – Saturday 14th December: 7.30pm
Tickets: £7 / £5  (Concessions) / £4 (Youth Theatre Members)
Box Office: 01904 613000 or book online

Please note there is a £1.50 per transaction charge if booking online. There is no transaction charge if booking by phone or in person through the Riding Lights Box Office. If you would like your tickets posted to you then there is a 50p charge to cover postage costs.

‘Letting Them In’

Paul Birch 2010 (2)Last week I got this privilege of speaking at the prestigious Rose Theatre, Kingston, Riding Lights having been asked to contribute to their Letting Them In conference. The day was the launch event the Rose Theatre’s Let Me In festival of work by, for and about people with learning difficulties – it’s wonderful to see other theatres engaged in this work too. Here’s what the blurb said…

‘A day to hear from some of the experts, including a practical workshop to explore communication issues with particular focus on voice to support those working with children and young adults in the special educational needs population.’

I was there helping delivering a workshop led by RL Board member and Summer Theatre School tutor Yvonne Morley, along with the skilled Speech and Language Therapist Francesca Rose. This is the fifth workshop Yvonne and the Voice Care Network has developed – the whole series of five aims to help teachers and support staff use their voices effectively in the classroom. Yvonne and I have co-deliverd these workshops across North Yorkshire and we have had a hugely positive response from participants. The workshop at the Rose was no exception and participants gave us some fantastic feedback.


Alongside the workshop, the speakers at the day were Stephen Unwin (Artistic Director of The Rose), Emma Cravitz (Educational Psychologist) Alison Ryan (Policy Advisor ATL) and myself.

I spoke on our own dynamic work with young people with Special Educational Needs though our award-winning Acting Up youth theatre. It seems to me that, under the artistic direction of Kelvin Goodspeed, Acting Up is not simply an accessible place but also a challenging one. The young people who attend discover not only a welcoming atmosphere but are asked to rise to many creative challenges. It is risky, but the sense of ensemble, achievement and empowerment is palpable when you witness a performance by these talented young actors. Only this morning I received an email from a parent which said:

‘…thank you for Acting Up, it has been a marvellous opportunity for my son (names have been removed) . As you are probably aware, he has severe speech and language delay along with his Autism. In his most recent assessment by the Speech Therapist she says on several occasions that my son has made more progress with all areas of speech and communication than expected for his previous ability. I am sure that Acting Up has been a major contributory factor to this unexpected progress and I wanted to share this with you.’

Legends-of-York-PosterThis came after the first performance of Acting Up’s latest show Legends Of York which I had the pleasure of seeing last Wednesday night. It was a bumpy first night but filled with many delights. The cast became horses and there was a live joust as part of the devised tale of King Arthur’s visit to York, a moving and empathetic de-bunking of York’s famous ghost Story of ‘The Grey Lady’ and the demanding adaptation of Elizabethan tract ‘The Black Dog of Newgate’ complete with lengthy speeches written in complex language.

Kelvin and his team asked a huge amount of the cast who delivered some brilliant moments of theatre. There is another performance tonight – so if you want to be entertained, moved and have a good night at the theatre just ‘Let yourself in…’

Paul Birch

The Armed Forces Community Project


The young people of Riding Lights Junior Youth Theatre and Strensall Barracks have joined forces in a collaborative term, in order to produce two nights of new theatre.

Each piece is inspired by testimonies from members of the Armed Forces, and their families, resulting in an evening of gripping and emotive theatre, presented by our talented young people.

Oceans by Matt Midgley
 looks at the painful issue of a female solder as she prepared to leave her family behind before deployment.

Warground by Paul Birch
 explores the concerns that children of serving families have when integrating into secondary school.

For Fierce Confusion, Peace by Morven Hamilton
addresses the difficult issue of PTSD, through the ens of a family adjusting to the return of a troubled soldier.

19th March: Friargate Theatre – 7:30pm
21th March: Hurst Hall Community Centre -7:30pm

FREE ENTRY – call 01904 613000 to reserve your ticket

The project has been funded by York City Council and runs in collaboration with Armed Forces Community York Stories 2012

Inherit the Earth

Led by Joseph Kony, the international criminal court’s most wanted man, The Lord’s Resistance Army operate a policy of forced recruitment; abducting children from their homes, with false hopes of a better future.

Since the rebel guerilla group began over 20 years ago, the L.R.A have snatched an estimated 66,000 children, tearing them from their homes, and beating them into submission.

Any failure to comply results in death.

Written by Paul Birch and devised with Riding Lights Summer School’s Flying Colours, Riding Lights Senior Youth Theatre presents Inherit The Earth – an exploration of the inner workings of the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Directed by jon boustead. Assistant directed by Emma Bagnall and Tom Maxwell

Choreography by Sophie Kingsley and Tom Jackson

Wanted: Youth Theatre and Education Assistants for 2012-13

Riding Lights Theatre Company is seeking volunteer Youth Theatre and Education Assistants for 2012-13. There are three periods available for this opportunity:

  • September to December 2012
  • January to April 2013
  • April to July 2013

We would be very happy to hear from people who would be interested in volunteering for one or more of these periods.

This is an ideal opportunity for anyone who is interested in working with young people in the theatre! It will involve acting as an Assistant to the Youth Theatre Director, and will offer experience in areas such as Youth Theatre rehearsals, workshop facilitating, stage management and administration.

We’ve had volunteer Youth Theatre Assistants for a number of years here at Friargate, and we love having them around. We asked Hannah Goudie, one of  2011 volunteers to tells us how she found the experience:

“Working as an Education Assistant for Riding Lights was a great opportunity. I really enjoyed the variety of the role, learning by actively being involved in the youth theatre sessions, as well as stage management, schools workshops and admin.

I particularly enjoyed the chance to work with a company that had Christianity at the centre and found the support of staff was fantastic.

The role offered great challenges to work with different ages and abilities in both youth theatre and school settings, which also provided a good range of experience for future work.”

The application process for this role will be subject to interview and an Enhanced CRB check.

For more information, please contact Jonty on 01904 655317, or send an email of enquiry to

Urgent: Education Assistant needed


Riding Lights Education Assistant

Would you like to volunteer and become a vital part of the Riding Lights team?

Enthusiastic, hard working? Looking for something to do in your Gap Year?

Riding Lights needs a new Education Assistant. This voluntary post  includes the chance to work with our youth theatres, teach drama in local schools, help run workshops, learn stage management skills and help with the day to day administration of Riding Lights.

This is a 5 – day a week, voluntary position which can last for 1, 2 or 3 academic terms (up to a year).

Find out more about this challenge by sending your CV for the attention of Sally Maddison at Riding Lights Theatre Company, Friargate Theatre, Lower Friargate, York YO1 9SL or phone on 01904 655317 for more information. Or email

Want a job?

Ever wanted to work for us? Now is your chance!

RIDING LIGHTS THEATRE COMPANY is seeking a ‘Youth Theatre Director & Education Practitioner’ from December 2010.

Responsibilities include leading our thriving and creative Senior and Junior Youth Theatre groups, assisting with Acting Up! a new Youth Theatre for young people with additional needs and disabilities and delivering the Company’s regular term-time teaching commitments.

For an application pack contact 01904 655317 or email

Closing Date for Applications is 24th October 2010.

Please consider your commitment to the company’s christian ethos before applying.

Happy New Year from all at Riding Lights!

Well here we are in a rather snowy 2010! And even just two weeks into the New Year it looks set to be a busy one. Arguably one of the best things about our home at Friargate is all the new and smiling faces that come through our doors throughout the year, and January is certainly a time when we welcome a lot of new people onboard. Sally and Kelvin’s new Education Assistant Rosie seems right at home after just one week, and meeting the youth theatre last night as term started hasn’t seemed to put her off just yet…

In five days we welcome our new Roughshod company, Dipo, Jon, Briony, Edith and Rachel (pictured). They will spend six weeks with us as they rehearse, devise, create workshops and generally prepare to embark on a six month tour of the UK. We’re very excited about working with them, and having met them a few times already and had two of them act in On Christmas Night, we’re sure this is set to be a great tour!