Eoin McKenzie: How I got involved in drama…

15 Feb 2019

Eoin McKenzie (22) from Glasgow had been involved as a participant of the drama groups at Platform for around 8 years. He has been lead artist for Platform’s Lab Station for the past 18 months now and their new show - Old Shows By Young People - has just been selected for the National Festival of Youth Theatre.

Interested in joining one of the drama groups at Platform? Read on for some inspiration!

How did you first get involved in Platform’s drama programmes and which courses were you a part of? I first got involved with Platform because my Mum thought I was shy as a kid. I got given a letter for a drama club in school when I was 8 years old and went along, albeit rather nervously. That drama club became part of the drama sessions for young people when it first opened, and I just liked it so much I stuck around until I went off to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. During my time at the drama classes I got to work with lots of really interesting theatre-makers and artists!

What kind of projects did you undertake while working with Platform? I took part in loads of projects - we made our own short films with GMAC, we took two performances to the National Theatre Connections Festival in Edinburgh, another one to the National Festival of Youth Theatre, and when I first started working with Lab Station we also went on an exchange trip to Viareggio in Italy for a youth theatre festival there. It’s hard to pick a particular highlight, but if I really had to I think it would be my trip to the National Festival of Youth
Theatre when I was 14. It was a really great weekend where I got to see loads of really interesting performances from folk my age and chat to other people also interested in making theatre - definitely a memory that’s stuck with me throughout my time!

Did working with Platform’s drama programmes equip you with any particular skills? My mum definitely felt like going to drama classes was helping me because she kept sending me! Throughout all my time in the classes I was given insights into lots of different approaches to theatre and performance making - often using devising and collaboration as a means of creating new and exciting work. I think the best thing I learned during my time there was that enthusiasm and being up for trying things out are two of the best skills you can

What have you gone on to do in the arts since your time at Platform? Since finishing participating in Lab Station I’ve went on to do a degree in Contemporary Performance Practice at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (which I couldn’t have went on to do without the experience and support from Platform). I graduated last July and since then I’ve became one of Imaginate’s Launchpad artists for 2018/19 so I’m hoping to develop a new work exploring failure and fear for teenagers. I’ve also became one of the co-directors of the Platform Young Company where - alongside Gudrun Soley and the company - we made Shaking The Habitual which we presented last October at the Chrysalis festival at the Traverse. I’ve also became an associate artist with Hidden Giants and I’m directing Lab Station currently in their new work Old Shows By Young People - where we take famous and historical
old plays and try and make them more exciting or relevant to the lives of teenagers. For example, how might Romeo and Juliet exist if it was told purely through memes is something we’re currently thinking about!

Why do you think Platform’s drama programmes are a good place to start if you’re thinking about getting into theatre? It’s such an open and encouraging space! When I was younger I had been to a few different youth theatres but quite often they felt really particular about how you had to perform and what you had to do - remember this, stand there, wear this, say this like that, and so on. But when I first started at Platform I was asked for my opinion about things, and what we made was always in response to how we felt
or what we wanted to do, and for me that was amazing! It was the first time in my life where I felt like my opinions about myself, current issues, and the world mattered. For me the Platform drama programmes were not only great for developing my confidence as a performer and as an artist, but for also enabling me to think critically about myself, the world, and the kind of theatre I was interested in or wanted to make - and that’s something that’s still really important to me now!

What would you say to any young people aspiring to be in the arts? Just do it! Sometimes I think we spend so much time now worrying that things not might be for us or that we need to do things that other people recognise and deem valid - but I think being an artist and making art (which I guess is just thinking about things and then doing things about what you’ve thought about) is one of the best jobs in the world! Even if it’s just a casual interest, just go for it, because who knows where you might end up - and to me that’s a really exciting place to be!

Inspired? Read how you can join in at one of Platform’s drama groups - Creation Station for age 8-11yrs, Lab Station for 12yrs-16yrs and Platform Young Company for 16-25yrs. Platform Young Company is holding two open workshops for new members on Sat 23rd February and Saturday 16th March between 1pm and 3.30pm. These workshops are open to anyone, regardless of experience.


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