Meet James

Published: 22nd October 2020

Meet James, Lead Facilitator Theatre31


Theatre is a way life!

Throughout breakups, personal losses, battles with my own mental health and all the other things life has thrown at me whilst growing up, theatre has always been the constant safe space.

I believe wholeheartedly that being involved with drama, performance and cultural activities is essential to a young person’s development. Being involved with the arts taught me to be confident but not cocky; to be passionate, punctual, and perceptive. It has given me a platform where my voice is heard within a creative and collaborative environment.

I have been involved in the arts for as long as I can remember, taking relevant subjects across GCSE and A-levels, participating in school productions and being part of extra-curricular activities and local youth theatres. Following this I moved to London to begin my training at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama joining a course that championed working with hard to reach communities, under the ethos that theatre can impact and ultimately change lives.

During my three years on the Drama, Applied Theatre and Education course I had the chance to develop my theatrical toolkit in areas such as facilitation and presentation skills; writing and directing my own play; working with wonderful professional companies such as Magic Me; performing in some amazing original devised productions and continuously gaining a deeper analytical understanding of the arts world.

In my spare time I enjoy watching my favourite TV show The Walking Dead, listening to my favourite band Take That (don’t judge!) and engaging with the amateur theatre world, both onstage and off. In the last few years, I have performed in various shows over the years including playing Leo Bloom in The Producers and Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar. I then moved into directing full-scale musical theatre productions with both adults and young people.

I have been so lucky to have the chance to perform in some amazing theatres spaces such as The Dukes Theatre, The Lancaster Grand Theatre and The Nuffield Theatre (all in Lancaster), as well as Arts Depot in London and The Minack Theatre in Porthcurno, Cornwall. In addition to directing musical theatre productions with young people I have worked as a professional actor for television commercials; produced and delivered workshops for schools and worked at a film school facilitating sessions with young people aged 5-18. This activity included all aspects of filmmaking including acting; directing; camerawork and editing.

This journey has led me to where I am now! I moved to Medway from the north east of England just three weeks ago to start working for Icon Theatre and their exciting new programme, Theatre31. The company and role jumped out to me as soon as I saw it because its core embodies everything I am passionate about and everything I trained to do.

Currently, we are living in a very different and difficult world and more so than ever, young people’s futures are being neglected and their communities disconnected. This is why Theatre31 is so so important. Being Lead Facilitator for Theatre31 gives me the chance to give back to our local community and the young people within it; a chance to inspire the next generation of theatre makers and give them the opportunities I was so lucky to have experienced myself growing up.

James Shields
Lead Facilitator, Theatre31

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