History – Flying Ducks Youth Theatre
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‘I had been involved in amateur theatre since my teens, performing in sketch work, pantomimes, drama, comedy/farce and finally ending up in musical theatre with a little directing along the way. Alongside this I was also heavily involved in youth work.

In 1995 I went to see a fundraising concert in Haxby Village Hall. Here a group of young people were part of the performance. Whilst their energy was good, their direction and production you could say was “somewhat lacking.”

I approached them with the suggestion that I did some workshops with them.

So with thirteen young people a series of workshops began, which very quickly became very successful. The young people thoroughly enjoyed them and wanted more, and so did I!

So a group was formed, ‘the Young People’s Drama Group’ which became very popular and the group started to grow. I decided to start a youth theatre, the problem was that we had no base and no funds.  I had previously performed with the Flying Ducks Theatre in Haxby and  the director Ron  Lee was a close friend.  He had been watching the young people and had the same idea about starting a youth theatre. So with his support and a loan of £300.00 from the FDT, the Flying Ducks Youth Theatre was born.  We paid off the loan within three months!

Stephen Outhwaite - Founder of Flying Ducks Youth Theatre
Stephen Outhwaite

Our first show was a variety concert with the title  ‘Is That My Line’ with a cast of 24 on the 1st May 1996. Following on was ‘Trolls’, a musical for which a friend of mine, Jill Holroyd was the Musical Director.  She brought in a large choir from Headlands School and after the show all of them joined the group, which brought the numbers up to 50.

Cartoon drawing of the cast of Trolls in 1997 drawn by former member Sophie Keen
The cast of Trolls in 1997 drawn by former member Sophie Keen

The next big step was the performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat which was so successful that an extra performance had to be hastily arranged. After that success, the following year the group headed to the Joseph Rowntree Theatre with a production of Fame the Musical and the rest is history.

The journey the group has experienced is quite extraordinary and it has had it’s ups and downs, but has always bounced back. When I started this group I never imagined the successes that all the hundreds of young people would achieve. I have seen them grow in confidence and use the skills they learnt as they developed into young adults. To be a small part of their journey is quite humbling.’

Stephen Outhwaite (Founder of Flying Ducks Youth Theatre)