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We Celebrate 4 Years of Voicebox!

It's been 4 years since we launched Voicebox Theatre Company CIC!



On 31 May 2019, our Voicebox name became official, although the seeds of our company were planted much earlier.


If you didn't already know, the core Voicebox team all trained as workshop facilitators at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama from 2015 to 2018 where they specialised in gender and sexuality studies.


John, Jack, Fredi and Andy stood in a line smiling at the camera. The four of them are wearing black t-shirts with a white graphic of a face on, and black trousers. They are stood in front of a plain white wall.
John, Jack, Fredi and Andy at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, 2018

At a house party in 2017, Jack (Project and Outreach Director) approached friends Andy (Managing Director) and John (Marketing and Social Media Director) with an idea to run workshops in schools, specifically aimed at promoting healthy masculinity in young men and boys.


Jack was inspired by his own experience of growing up as a young man and the gender-based pressures he faced which Andy and John both resonated with.


Once they got Fredi (Finance and Administration Director) onboard, it wasn't long before the team had run their first workshops at their university, and then in a school in Kingston Upon Thames in June 2018.


Fredi, Andy, John and Jack stood in a row laughing with each other Jack has one hand around John.
Fredi, Andy, John and Jack at the Voicebox Launch, 2019

Later that year, the four applied for their school's Enterprise Fund. After submitting a meaty business plan and presenting it to a panel of industry professionals, the team were awarded the highest pot of funding, enabling them to kickstart the Voicebox mission with confidence!



2019


In 2019, we launched Voicebox Theatre Company CIC as a PSHE and RSE workshop provider, using the drama based tools the team learnt from their training to facilitate fun, engaging activities with young people surrounding gender, masculinity, relationships and wellbeing.


That summer, we ran a collaborative project with Hoxton Hall called Play in a Week: a week-long project working with 7-10 year olds to produce a theatre piece exploring gender-stereotypes, with a specific focus on celebrating difference. This show was performed on Hoxton Hall's main stage on the last day to an audience of friends and family.


A headshot of Andy Hill in front of a light grey backdrop. Andy is a white British man with short curly ginger brown hair and a medium length beard. He is wearing a pale pink top and is smiling at the camera.

Managing Director Andy said:


"It was truly inspiring to see children as young as 7, engaging in conversations about gender and having the courage to stand on stage and perform a piece of theatre that they had created!"


Find out more about this project here.




2020


Towards the end of 2019 and leading into the next year, Voicebox were included in Barnet Council's cultural partnership scheme in collaboration with Arts Depot and also received core cost funding, enabling us to have office space for one day a week, and officially employ the four Voicebox directors!


Of course, with the introduction of lockdowns and school closures in the UK, we had to take a step back from our in-person workshop activity, but that didn't stop two exciting opportunities from coming our way.


In Summer 2020, we spoke at two online events: the Young Barbican Nights: Masculinities Event on Rethinking Masculinity and the Global Social Leaders Festival Event for young people.


A headshot of Fredi Beard. He is a white european man with a dark brown beard. He is wearing a white, red and green striped shirt, and is looking at the camera with a neutral expression.

Finance and Administration Director Fredi said:


"Despite not being able to physically deliver any work in 2020, it was an incredibly important year for Voicebox’s development. Thanks to core cost funding, we were able to reconsider our approach and redevelop our workshops to be relevant to the PSHE curriculum."



2021


2021 was a busy one! With lockdowns easing and life slowly edging back towards a less interrupted routine, we welcomed collaborations with some fantastic organisations.


From April to July we partnered with Colourful Peach to deliver sex and consent workshops in schools in London and the South East.


In May, we began developing a project with Tower Hamlets on challenging harmful masculinities in schools, through which we hired our very first external Voicebox hire Charlie as assistant creator for the project!


In September, we began our relationship with Epsom College running our Introduction to Masculinity Assembly. (Epsom College remains a very frequent client of ours! Check out some recent workshops we led with their students exploring positive masculinity, kindness, courage and respect).


This year went out with a bang when we received our first pot of funding from Arts Council to run our East End Masculinities project (keep scrolling to read more in our 2022 activity!).


Actors Jasraj, Alex and Barry stood in front of a red backdrop, laughing with each other.
Actors Jasraj, Alex and Barry in East End Masculinities, 2022

2022


Using support from Tower Hamlets council, we began the year delivering more of our workshops on masculinity specifically with young people in the Tower Hamlets area.


Already by the summer we'd expanded our facilitation team to include the fantastic Allen, Cecilia, Will, Benjie and Sybilla, and had worked with over 2,900 students and young people!

We also welcomed Annie onto the team as our Marketing & Social Media Assistant, whose contract we later extended and promoted her to Marketing & Social Media Officer!


A group photo of Voicebox facilitators amongst members of School Staff at a secondary school enrichment day.
Voicebox facilitators Oisin, Cecilia, Annie and Allen with Andy and Fredi at Kingsley Academy, 2022

It was also this summer that we got to run East End Masculinities. Using our Arts Council funding from 2021, we ran a 10-week programme for boys aged 14-18 in Tower Hamlets which culminated in a 40-minute devised show exploring what it means to be a young man in the East End.


Through workshops, masterclasses and performance-based exercises, our young participants generated a script drawn from their own experiences which they brought to life on stage for two performances at St Margaret's House (which completely sold out!).


This was also our first opportunity to work with so many creatives on a project. We had designers Aaron Graham and Libby Monroe, writer Tejas Rawal and co-director Tom Chamberlain all onboard, which meant we could really ensure a high quality and professional artistic experience for the young people involved. One of our participants Jasraj, whose passion for acting began at 3 years old, said "my acting skills have grown a lot [...]. And [the project] has taught me what it is to be a man".


A headshot of Jack Tricker, in front of a light grey backdrop.. Jack is a white British man with short dark brown hair and a short beard. He is wearing a red and dark green tartan shirt, and is smiling directly at the camera.

Our Project and Outreach Director Jack, who co-directed the show, said:


“This was our first long term project so we were very excited to receive funding after beginning conversations with St. Margaret's House during Lockdown 2021. The participants and creative team took to the process with so much dedication and care; it was fantastic to see how they could creatively respond to our themes and pull off such an important and emotive piece. As we celebrate 4 years of Voicebox, this is one of my proudest achievements at Voicebox and one I won’t forget for a long time”


You can listen to the cast and creative team talk more about their experience of the project here, or even watch a recording of the full performance here.



2023


We've hit a few milestones in 2023 already. As of the end of this March, we'd officially worked with over 5,000 students and young people, and over 90 teachers and educators!


These numbers continue to rise with every project, workshop and assembly we run, including our Social Prescribing Project with St Margaret's House, our Reflection and Discovery Programme in collaboration with Arts Depot and The Pavilion Pupil Referral Unit in Barnet, and Mendoza Mania in collaboration with St. Margaret's House and St. Hilda's East Community Centre.


A young participant wearing a light blue t-shirt with pink ribbon around their hands holding their fists up as if ready to fight.
Brave Girl member in Mendoza Mania, 2023

As we come into the middle of this year, we've reflected on the last 4 years of learning and refined our workshop and assembly offering.


We now offer four tailored workshops which effectively deliver and promote Voicebox's mission of promoting healthy masculinity in schools and society:


  • Healthy Relationships

  • Masculinity & Wellbeing

  • Healthy Masculinity: What it means to be a ‘good’ man

  • Violence Against Women & Girls: The role of men


Visit our workshops page to read more about our services.


We also offer our Introduction to Masculinity assembly which gives students a chance to delve deeper into the theoretical ideas around gender and the world around us.


Fill in our booking form to express an interest in our workshops and assemblies, or get in touch via email.



For now, watch our birthday message and join us as we celebrate 4 years of Voicebox!




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