Wednesday 14 April 2021


Emerge is an insightful and informative look into modern day perspectives contrasted against stories of a community dealing with the aftermath of the Titanic tragedy in 1912. We have worked with the SeaCity Museum to collate research and oral histories, exploring how the Titanic widows and the Southampton community were impacted following the tragedy.

We have collated real stories which reflect the inequalities and challenges faced in both 1912 and 2021, exploring how the human spirit triumphs in the face of adversity.

The project is funded by a Mayflower 400 Community Heritage Grant as part of the city-wide Mayflower 400 programme. The anniversary year seeks to celebrate Southampton, a city and a community, built on journeys and migration, whilst increasing access to and engagement in culture. 

 The 1997 blockbuster romantic and disaster film, ‘Titanic’ is an epic film that provides a fictional retrospective on the tragedy. However, we wanted to shift our focus to the forgotten families of the victims left behind and the working class communities already struggling amidst high levels of unemployment and poverty. The Titanic widows were most affected, Suffrage may have been on the rise, but the working class widows had no rights, no voice and little financial support. 

 Our young actors wanted to creatively explore hidden stories from in and around Southampton in an empathetic way to help them connect more deeply with their local heritage.

What can we learn from others and their acts of humility as we look beyond this time of crisis and how can we support each other as a community today?

We also wanted to empower our young people through different art forms, allowing them to develop lifelong skills, while learning more deeply about their local community and how others have also overcome adversity.

RMS Titanic was a passenger liner that, at the time of construction, was the largest ship ever built. It was on its maiden voyage sailing from Southampton, UK to New York City, US, when it sank after colliding with an iceberg. Commemorations and ceremonies are being held today to pay respects to those who lost their lives on the 15th April,1912. As part of the 109th anniversary of the sinking of RMS Titanic, we wanted to share our actor’s historical explorations and how the stories they are depicting have influenced them creatively and personally in 2021.

Right side: Enactment of the Lady Visitor (Miss Newman) visiting a Titanic widow. Photography credit: Southampton City Council Cultural Services Left side: Holly Parsons as Lady Visitor in Emerge Photography credit: Theatre for Life CIC

Interview with Holly Parsons 

Character name - 

Miss Ethel Maude Newman

Miss Newman was also known as the Lady Visitor. She was 36, and was known for visiting families in receipt of money from the Southampton fund, checking on their ongoing welfare. She served 28 years on the local administration committee before she died and was an important woman in the history of Southampton's response to the disaster. 

 How would you describe your character in three words? 

 Determined, Educated, Grounding. 

 As an actor what did you want to bring to the role? 

My main purpose for this character was to try and reflect a journey not only for the family of Amelia, but in Miss Newman herself. She has numerous character and story arcs that reflect the battles she faced when trying her best to help these families. 

 What do you want audiences to take from our final film in June? 

Firstly, I want the audiences to be just as educated as the company have been throughout this project. We all think because we have seen the film of the ‘Titanic’ that we know everything about the people during this time. I for one have learnt about those left behind and who now finally have an outlet to share their stories. It would be extremely gratifying if our audiences witness how these struggles are still parallel with modern day, and reflect on how each individual can change society for the better if we delve deeper into the system and address the flaws head on. 

 What can you learn from your character from 1912? 
 What messages from the past to help inform our future? 

From my character, you can learn to not judge a book by its cover. Pre judgements and perceptions of people can negatively impact how we treat them, speak to them etc. Miss Newman's journey shows true empathy for the family as we see her grow closer to them as people and not a number. This shows that kindness more than anything is limitless and there is always something no matter how big or how small that can impact someone's life for the better. 


Are you interested to learn more about Miss Newman? 

Join Jo Wren from Southampton Archives to find out about the devastating aftermath of the sinking of the Titanic for the people of Southampton and what was done to ‘help’ through a journey of Edwardian women’s and social history. 

SOUTHAMPTON: SeaCity Museum ONLINETuesday 20th April, 2021Door time: 6:50pm, Start time: 7:00pmAll ages (under 16s must be accompanied by an adult)


 Interview with Troy Chessman

Character name - 

Legal Representative 

 The Legal representative represents those (who like today) stand up and fight for justice against a biased class system, He was one of many who fought tirelessly on behalf of the Southampton families who had lost loved ones onboard the Titanic and then faced financial difficulties because of it. 

 How would you describe your character in three words? 

 Tenacious, humane, resilient. 

 As an actor what did you want to bring to the role? 

 I really wanted to bring this strong sense of humanity to this character, who really believed in finding justice for Southampton residents, but also blend it with his utmost professionalism. It was about identifying 'moments" in the text to allow the humanity to echo through. 

 What do you want audiences to take from our final film in June?

 I want audiences to learn about what happened after the Titanic disaster, like myself, I was never taught about the struggles that appeared after, the endless court battles and constant fight for compensation and the sheer extent of just how people were let down by those in power after such a horrific event. 

 What can you learn from your character from 1912?

 I have learnt from my character that if you have a platform and a voice, we should always make a stand, fight for what is right, challenge those injustices and provide a voice for those who simply cannot. 

Watch the premiere of 'Emerge' on the 25th June at 7.30 pm at MAST Mayflower Studios

TICKETS GO ON SALE - 22nd April 

£8 Full price, £5 Concessions

Wednesday 18 November 2020

POWER OF YOUTH & CREATIVITY                       


For many of us, 2020 was something we were looking forward to. Fresh starts, ideas etc, yet here we are, in the midst of a pandemic. However, with being asked to stay at home, cases of mental health have risen. According to Mind, a mental health charity,
 ‘more than half of adults (60%) and over two thirds of young people (68%) have said their mental health got worse during lockdown.’ 

Many people are finding it tough to keep themselves occupied. For me, keeping creative was proving quite a challenge. But that didn’t stop the industry from pulling together.  The company I’m apart of, Theatre for Life, had set up a 6 month creative workshops, to keep people being active and creative. From poetry, dancing, musical workshops, writing, wellbeing etc. there was always something going on every week. This was exactly what myself and other young or old people needed in this crucial time. Taking part in the workshops, challenged me to try out things I’ve never done before. They created something that was accessible in the times of need, to which I am thankful for. 

As I mentioned before, there were wellbeing workshops and these were held with Solent Mind, a local mental health charity. I found these workshops incredibly insightful and helpful, as sometimes my mind feels like an engine going into overdrive. So attending these workshops, learning new techniques, but also realising in my own body what is happening and acknowledging it, was a step forward. There are still times it wants to think of every tiny detail, but I'm now able to break down my mind, acknowledge and move forward with it. 

From everything that is and has happened, a new projected has ‘emerged’ from this. Working with the Southamptons Children’s Hospital and PEEER,  Project Youth Service, we're exploring hidden disabilities and important issues within this. I won’t share too much as you can find more about it on our instagram, Twitter and website, just search for ’Theatre for Life’. It is something super exciting and we all cannot wait for the finished product!

I think for me, what I would like for you to take away today, is look at art, but see past what your eyes can see. Dive into exploring new things, no one is right or wrong when creating as it’s your creation. This is something that is fantastic for your emotional and mental well being, which at times like this, can be taken for granted. There is no pressure to do anything big or small, just do something that you enjoy doing, even the simplest things like putting on music and dancing, or just listening, can help take your mind off things and calm you. Something like that a day, can have that much of an impact.

Written by Amy Webb, Theatre for Life and I will Youth Leader

#POWEROFYOUTH BLOG By Sarah Shameti Southampton Children's Hospital



Theatre for Life have been working collaboratively with the NHS and Southampton Children's Hospital to create high - quality opportunities in the arts. Through the Emerge project we have been reaching young patients with long term health conditions to take part, share learning and achieve shared goals. 

The community collaboration has enabled Theatre for Life to diversify the young people they work with, supporting them to be part of meaningful youth social action. 

We have been very fortunate to have forged a strong relationship with Sarah Shameti - Youth Worker at Southampton Children's Hospital 

Read Sarah's blog about our current Emerge project and collaboration. 

I feel a bit of a fraud gate-crashing with the young people as they support #Powerofyouth by sharing their own powerful experiences through this Social Media take over, yet I want to steal just a few paragraphs to share the impact these young people have had on me.

I have worked with young people for nearly 20 years, a career path driven by my own struggles in my late teens, and my determination to turn these years of overcoming challenges, navigating health systems and understanding the importance of choice, into experience that may positively enable others too.

Working with young people living with long-term health conditions at Southampton Children’s Hospital over the last 18 months, has so often left me feeling like the one who has been empowered.  The challenges these young people face are daily, the hurdles often too tall to jump, but that doesn’t stop them climbing and finding a way to get to the other side, their resilience may look like a suit of armour, but inside that protection is a teddy bear, like all of us with feelings and fears, just a whole lot of determination to not give in.

These young people, living with conditions that may indeed threaten their life are truly living their life with every drop of energy they have, nothing is more true than the power of these youths.

The Theatre for Life, Emerge project has given the young people the opportunity to explore their own relationships with themselves, their condition and their confidence; it has given them the platform to find their own way of expressing themselves and feel valued in this process.  These young people are bringing so many important issues to the surface, and emerging stronger, braver and truly skilled and talented actors.   I hope other young people also feel inspired to investigate their creativity as a way of finding themselves.  

This partnership between the PEEER youth Service at Southampton Children’s Hospital and Theatre for Life is a precious drop of water, that will hopefully show the ocean of opportunities there are in working together in creative ways to make a difference….Watch this space something wonderful is EMERGING…..

Tuesday 2 June 2020

YOUTH LEADERS #PowerOfYouth Day - 3rd June 2020

Young People have the talent, energy and ideas to make a powerful difference both in the immediate response to this crisis, and to build a better future. We must listen to them. We must work with them.

                                   We are in this together - so we must work together.

Theatre for Life CIC Youth Leader meeting during Lockdown, June, 2020

At Theatre for Life CIC we are really lucky to be able to work with so many inspiring young people who are dedicated to making positive changes within our community as part of the #iwill campaign. 

In light of #PowerOfYouth day and as part of our #iwill funding we wanted to take the time to hear what our youth leaders have been getting up to to throughout the lockdown period.


Shea joined Theatre for Life this year, she is currently studying a BA Hons Degree in Makeup and Hair Design at Solent University in Southampton. Shea is considered a vulnerable person at risk which has meant throughout lockdown she has remained at home in Northern Ireland.

Shea has continued her youth social action work helping her local community... 

“As a high risk person living with a life-limiting disability (CHD and Heart Failure), these times are genuinely terrifying. Through my charity @braveheartsni we have been able to reach out and help hundreds of Bravehearts and healthcare professionals throughout Northern Ireland. During this experience I have realised how important it is to band together as a community and help the vulnerable and high-risk. No community can overcome any issue with a ‘each for their own’ mentality. It is so important that we don’t revert back to forcing the disabled and vulnerable back into isolation while the rest of the world carries on; but take the steps to come together and work with each other to create a safe and equal environment. Creative outlets and charities like Theatre For Life & BraveheartsNI are giving young people the chance to be heard during this pandemic, to establish that we believe in your worth as a member of society, and will strive to continue supporting #highriskwarriors for as long as we can. Be kind and look out for each other.“

Shea has also been putting her textiles skills to use by making scrub bags for the NHS so medical staff can take their uniforms home safely to wash each day. 


Holly joined Theatre for Life in 2019, Holly has very much taken on a mentor role at the company, supporting the team with professional engagements and other young people attending the group.

Theatre for Life and our youth leaders, including Holly were invited to be guest speakers recently at the #PositiveFutures event as part of the Creativity and Wellbeing week on the 20th May.

The online session was an opportunity to connect with others interested in young people, the arts, creativity and mental health, and was run in partnership with the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance, Hampshire Cultural Trust and Southampton Art in Health Forum. The event was attended by over 140 professionals and artists across both the South West and from abroad. 

Holly spoke during the webinar about how creativity has supported her own anxieties, in particular throughout the lockdown period. She also advocated the importance of creating safe spaces and fostering a sense of belonging to support young people and their mental health. 

I believe this world can never have enough positivity, especially in times of crisis, and so showing support to each other and being creative has allowed me and others to do this. Young people like me have a part to play in this crisis, & in the future.”


We were so proud of Holly and our other youth speakers, including Hannah Pashen from No Limits who has been working with us on our 2020 Silent Mind project. 

Creativity has enabled me to learn how to express myself more freely and has been teaching me to learn to start to feel more comfortable enough with who I am as a person and to not feel ashamed of who I am and the path I have chosen.“

We couldn't do this without you. Today, we’re saying thank you to all the young people playing their part in this crisis. We want to shout out to all our young people at THEATRE FOR LIFE CIC
Together, we are celebrating the #PowerOfYouth ⚡️

Friday 15 November 2019


KATE POTTER (19) - Youth Advisory Board - Theatre for Life CIC 
Community Outreach actress  & workshop leader 

One of my biggest passions is making Theatre more accessible to everyone, I believe that no matter who you are and what your background is, you should have the opportunity to enjoy the arts. I’m also incredibly supportive of using the arts to support mental health provision, helping to open up conversations and explore issues creatively. 

Through Theatre for Life I took part in the Southampton Generals Simulated Patient Programme and took on the role of a young girl with ADHD who had taken a substance, suspected speed, and had a terrible reaction. It was such a good opportunity and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Being in that environment was super intense but it was such an interesting and eye opening day. It also opened my eyes to how POWERFUL theatre is to explore important subject matters, which is why being apart of Theatre for Life is a great opportunity. 

It was particularly rewarding working for the NHS and using theatre to support training. I’m also really looking forward to performing to professionals from the NHS and CAMHS during our community outreach performance at Cantell School in Southampton as part of our Youth Social action work. 

Being apart of Silent Mind and exploring mental health awareness and wellbeing has been such a supportive journey, it has allowed me to open up within my group and with the audiences we reach. It’s so great to be able to suggest ideas, liaise with community groups and plan how we will reach even more people with this important piece. Our planning meetings are so positive and productive, it’s such a great process to be apart of and I love working with the other group members. 

My role at Theatre for Life is focused on helping to support the community outreach programme, particularly on improving accessibility so we can reach as many young people as possible. 

We are really excited that we have also started to explore how we can also use our work to support education and health professionals. This year we performed Silent Mind as a CPD at Redbridge School, we are also performing at Bay House Sixth Form and Brune Park Community School in the new year. It was so insightful to perform our work to teachers and to gain feedback on our work.

 Very moving... I feel that young and old would benefit from seeing this, it helped to visualise the most confusing internal emotions .The workshops put the performance into context and gave resources for more information.

Enlightening and emotionally engaging. A very meaningful message and a worthy cause, keep up the good work! 

It was very insightful - offering a glimpse unto mental health issues affecting our young people and useful techniques to help support them 

I’m excited to see how we can continue to support young people and organisations such as the NHS with Silent Mind, I’m particularly looking forward to creating our new version in 2020, focusing on new stories with new coping strategies. 


As a team we have been working super hard to create some engaging community workshops using the arts to support mental health awareness and wellbeing. 

As part of my Youth leadership role and our community outreach we would like to offer  FREE tickets to 14-25 year olds to our upcoming Drama and Vlog workshop on the 25th January from 10.30-3.30 at the City Art Gallery in Southampton.  

Here is an outline of our Vlog workshop:

We will be using Drama techniques to teach young people about empowerment, we want to define what this is and how best to support ourselves, exploring how stereotypes affect our self-esteem and what constitutes a positive role model. 

Working with a professional Vlogger / film maker young people will have the opportunity to learn skills on how to use their smart phone to create powerful and compelling vlogs.

*We are particularly interested in working with young people aged 14-25 years old with limited access to the arts in the SOUTHAMPTON area*

Wednesday 30 August 2017


Monday 14th August  -  Acting Workshop with Theatre for Life by Holly McLachlan 

Now, I went into this workshop with a mindset of “you have to smash this!”, “you want to impress them!”, “you need to be great!”, and all I can advise in hindsight is... don’t do this. Just don’t. I come from a background of absolutely zero experience in performance until college, in which I took the Drama and Theatre Studies A-Level purely because I had one slot left to fill, and here I am now studying BA (Hons) Acting at one of the most prestigious arts universities in the UK; Arts University Bournemouth. So naturally, I wanted to go into this workshop and show off a bit... sell myself and my skills that I had learnt over the two years. Represent my university. Now that in itself, is fine, but the Acting workshop with Theatre for Life gave me so much more than just a kick up the bum I needed, it reminded me of my values as an Actor and everything I have learnt so far, in which, surprisingly, I did none of in the workshop.
A workshop is not an audition. You aren’t there to impress or be great or any of the silly things I had locked into my head before I went in. Theatre for Life did a fantastic job creating a safe bubble of creativity where you could freely express yourself... try new things... fail... mess up your lines... and re-evaluate yourself, just as I did. 
The first part of the workshop consisted of working with monologues that we had prepared, with professional working actor Ameer Choudrie, a wonderfully funny and ‘chilled-out’ man who’s energy was greatly appreciated, by not just me but many other young people who were equally, if not more, nervous than I was. Performing is a daunting task, especially when you’re 17 (or younger!) and you’re in a new environment, with new people. Ameer made sure that we were all introduced, all supportive and all feeling comfortable in order to get the very best out of us. 
Now as I said earlier, I flunked this part – but in a good way! Yes, it is possible to do that! I immediately jumped in with what I thought was a good idea and it certainly wasn’t. I forgot my lines multiple times, had too much tension in my body and had no real connection to my text, aside from the emotional capacity. When asked to contextualise it, make it relevant to myself, the words came flowing back... until I became aware of my surroundings again and the fourth wall dropped. Boom, back to blank again. And for some reason, I decided to go in with a preconceived idea of this pleading, pitiful typical Shakespearean woman. This woman was not relatable to me, I had no connection to her and so the context wasn’t there. I was simply performing a monologue, reading the words in a way I thought would sound and look just splendid, darling. One piece of advice from Ameer that proved relatable across many of us at the workshop was to not make it all ‘one level’ – to find the peaks and troughs of the monologues, highs and lows. Very important. I am very grateful for the feedback received by Ameer and Michelle, director of Theatre for Life, and am glad that I messed my monologue up. Sometimes you need to fail in order to learn, or be reminded. 
My advice to anyone preparing a monologue for drama school auditions or for any purpose really, whether that be an audition or a showcase, or simply to perform to your family on Christmas Eve, is this: do not treat it as a performance. A monologue is simply a snippet of the play, a brief glimpse into a period of time that is imperative to the character of the story. You are not just reading a piece of text from memory. This is pure truth. This piece of text has a reason why it is so long, why the character is going into such length to talk. Find that. Work on the truth. Contextualise it and make it relevant and resonant to you. Find the character in yourself, I can’t stress that enough. Do not pick up a piece of text and think “Oh, that’ll be great!” when you have absolutely no connection to the character, to the words or the story. They will know that you are just reading or reciting it. I promise you. The audition panel can see everything. Watching someone actually live through the words, using the text properly and conveying every objective, every need and necessity the character has in that short moment of time is something else. It’s beautiful. But don’t get stuck in one way of performing it, the audition panel will most likely ask you to perform it in a different way – I flunked my East 15 drama school audition in my contemporary monologue but as soon as the audition panel redirected me, it all came back. I got the waiting list too! Messing up is okay!!
In the second half of the workshop, we were introduced to Michael Balogun and Harry Jardine, two RADA graduates as part of the RADA outreach programme. Now if I hadn’t already learnt enough in the morning with Ameer, it was going to be confirmed and confirmed again for me in this session. Since a lot of what we did in the afternoon consisted of activities and exercises I had received in my own training at Arts University Bournemouth, I was able to let go a little and chill the [censored] out. And this is where the best work comes. When you are relaxed, sure of yourself – but not cocky – and able to be in the moment, rather than considering what everyone is thinking of your performance or if you get the next line right or if you are doing enough... bla bla bla, you can really let yourself develop, and development leads to greatness.
Instead of working on text, Michael and Harry established an environment of huge energy and, as I said earlier, offered a few exercises from their drama school training. We also were given Michael Balogun’s astonishing story of discovering how he wanted to be an actor, as a 30-something (sorry Michael!). For obvious reasons, I won’t put this story down here but safe to say if there was anyone who has inspired me more to keep pushing and ‘keep that vision’ it was him. Michael offered me a council that was invaluable. Both sessions enabled me to really look at myself and my development as an actor, see where I want to go and how I want to get there. 
And, most importantly, who am I as an actor? What do I bring? 

“Your reality comes from you. Make it work.” – Michael Balogun 

Friday 23 June 2017





Top flight directors from the celebrated Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA),
The Urdang Academy and from The Voice are sharing their skills with youngsters
in Southampton to develop future stars of stage and screen.

Stephen King, international voice coach for The Voice (Belgium), vocalist on BBC Radio Two's Friday Night is Music Night and technical singing teacher at The Urdang Academy in London will be leading the professional Musical Theatre Auditions workshop.

"I'm excited to be part of such a forward thinking initiative" 

Carys Williams, the Widening Participation & Outreach Manager at RADA said the following about Theatre for Life. 

“RADA is excited to be working with Theatre for Life to encourage young people from diverse backgrounds to participate in the arts. By offering a RADA workshop and Q&A session on drama school auditioning, we hope to open access to drama school training for talented young people in Southampton."

The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA)

The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) offers vocational training for actors, stage managers, designers and technical stage craft specialists. RADA was established in 1904 and has since built an outstanding reputation as a world-renowned centre of excellence, offering the best possible facilities, exceptional teaching and strong links with the industries that employ its graduates. RADA’s student population is a diverse community, united by a shared passion for theatre-making. RADA prides itself both on the professional standard of their student productions and on their track-record of employment in theatre, film and television.
RADA figures 2015-16 – based on BA Acting course

  • 27% of current students are from black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds
  • 39% of current UK students (new to HE) have a household income of below £25k
  • 54% of current UK students (new to HE) have a household income of below £43k
  • 74% of current UK students (new to HE) receive some kind of financial aid, including meal vouchers
Professional tutors and directors from top London drama schools including RADA, East 15 and Urdang are coming to Southampton to help young actors prepare for their future careers.

In the Acting Auditions workshop, actors will be guided by Jason Warren (professional director at East 15 Acting School and artistic director of Axis Arts) in a three-hour audition masterclass. RADA will then continue the students’ professional development in a practical class, followed by a Q&A about the experiences of auditioning for and attending a full-time drama school. As a world-leading drama conservatoire, RADA not only nurtures the performing skills of its students, but understands the discipline required to succeed as a professional artist in today’s industry.

In the Musical Theatre Auditions workshop, performers will be guided by international singing coach Stephen King, who has worked on The Voice and teaches at the
Urdang Academy in London. Stephen will be exploring technical singing and how to prepare for audition. This will be followed by an acting through song session led by
professional actor, Ameer Choudrie (London Road, BBC Films / National Theatre).

Michelle Smith, Artistic Director of Theatre for Life: “We are very honoured to have such prestigious links such as RADA and international voice coach Stephen King working with the young actors and have every confidence that the young actors will truly benefit from such expertise."

“At Theatre for Life we want to provide industry standard workshops and opportunities in Southampton at affordable prices to ensure young actors are not hindered by financial constraints.”

Theatre for Life is a new company set up to encourage social inclusion through educational workshops and community theatre projects.

The company’s activities will provide benefit to young people (14-25 years) who cannot afford to participate in the performing arts in the Southampton area - they can join both the Youth Theatre group and Community Outreach projects for free, these groups will be starting later in the year.

Michelle Smith says: “Theatre for Life believes in unlocking young people's creativity, developing self belief and providing opportunities to help the next generation of performers".

Emily Hindle (19) is currently studying on the (BA Hons) in Acting & Contemporary Theatre at East 15 Acting School and is a Theatre for Life mentor. She spoke about her own experiences of using theatre to improve her life. 

"From a young age I struggled with socialising and confidence; since starting theatre and performing this has changed drastically. Not only am I more confident as an actress, but more confident in myself around people and in a professional environment, and I have began to accept and celebrate who I am as a performer and person"

As part of Theatre for Life's investment in local young actors and their career development the company have formulated links with R.D Casting & Production Ltd. Talented and committed actors who attend the Theatre for Life groups may be able to get representation and will be recommended to the Founder and Managing Director Michael Moor. Michael Moor (former Head of Musical Theatre at the Guildford School of Acting) is leading the way, with versatile performers who are also directors, writers and producers.

Young actors who come from low income households will be able to attend both the
Acting Auditions and Musical Theatre Auditions workshops at a discounted price. Other young hopefuls can also attend the workshop at a heavily subsidised price of £20 for Acting and £25 for the Musical Theatre workshops.


Emerge is an insightful and informative look into modern day perspectives contrasted against stories of a community dealing with the aft...