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Celebrating 10 Years of Summer Youth Projects

11 years ago, Michael Ockwell joined Mayflower Theatre as Chief Executive and he brought with him a passion for youth theatre and a goal to broaden the engagement of young people in the arts in Hampshire.

The main participatory event to achieve this aim was a Summer Youth Project. A two-week project where up to 250 young people aged 11–18 work with industry professionals to create a full-scale musical. The inaugural Summer Youth Project was Bugsy Malone in 2013 and saw 225 young people take part.

Due to the overwhelming success of Bugsy Malone, the Summer Youth Project became an annual event. Over the 10 years (including this year’s project HONK!) we have had over 1,600 participants and there has been over 1,000 hours spent on the project. This year 144 participants will be taking part in HONK!

Since 2013, participants have collaborated with over 400 theatre professionals, including choreographers, costume designers, directors, film and media teams, fly crews, lighting designers, make-up artists, musicians, musical directors, producers, puppeteers, stage managers, set designers, technicians, wardrobe departments and many more!

The cast of Bugsy Malone pose with arms in the air. There is a city backdrop and a disco ball hanging.
Bugsy Malone 2013
The cast of Summer Holiday raise their right arm in the air with their hands spread open. They are wearing summer shirts and dresses.
Summer Holiday 2021

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Summer Youth Project, past participants have been invited back to see this year’s production on Saturday 12th August. There is also a visual display encompassing everything that has been achieved over the last 10 years and showcasing what Summer Youth Project has meant to our alumni.

Michael Ockwell has said “Throughout our Summer Youth Projects we have strived to empower young people to follow their dreams and create meaningful connections. We have aimed to cultivate a space where they can freely express themselves and unleash their unique talents. It is our belief that by doing so, we can contribute to their personal growth and nurture their development into well-rounded adults equipped with invaluable life skills. I am delighted that our Summer Youth Projects have been such a success and engaged so many young people in the theatre and more broadly the arts. I am also thrilled to share that Mayflower Theatre’s Summer Youth Project will be returning in 2024 for its 11th year, and we will be going right back to where it all began with the show being Bugsy Malone. This gives the next group of young people the opportunity to enjoy this wonderful musical.”

8 female members of the cast are standing around 1 cast member who is holding a black book wide open. They are gasping and look shocked.
Guys and Dolls 2017
Summer Youth Project, 10 years, 2013 to 2023. Images of previous projects are displayed around the text.
The main cast member is being attacked by the villain of the show whilst the ensemble stand behind and watch in horror.
The Lightning Thief 2022