Our latest Building Futures workshop saw participants gaining theatre production skills and unleashing their inner thespian as they trod the boards at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, where four weeks of theatre workshops culminated in imaginative reinterpretations of Toy Story, Macbeth and Sherlock! Here’s how it all happened.

About Building Futures

Building Futures is an employability programme that changes the lives of disadvantaged adults and young people across Buckinghamshire, especially those who are economically inactive or who face challenging barriers to work.

It provides intensive support and bespoke group activities, usually delivered as collaborations with partner organisations, that help participants gain confidence, qualifications and new skills. Our activity segments come in the form of fun, challenging group workshops lasting 4-8 weeks, which help participants learn and practise transferable skills—often in industries or domains they have not experienced before. 

Our workshop 

BF Theatre ProjectOur Building Futures team was a diverse group aged 16-38. Some had no work experience, while others didn’t recognise the value of skills they had gained from past experience of work—often curtailed due to illness or life changes.

Building Futures Keyworker Nicolle Bidgman thought Aylesbury’s Waterside Theatre would be the perfect forum for a confidence-building workshop, allowing our group to learn theoretical and technical skills they could put into practice. She approached the theatre’s outstanding Creative Learning Team, which uses the theatre as an immersive learning experience for community projects.

Putting learning into practice: the show. 

Led by Madison Kimble, the Waterside team helped to create a workshop where, across eight sessions, our would-be thespians learned theatre and production skills whilst writing and rehearsing their own show, with total creative control.  To accommodate mixed levels of confidence, our group broke into three teams, each creating their own short play. Their work culminated in a show called “Twisted Tales,” which saw the three interrelated pieces united by a common motif or theme. 

Twisted Tales at a glance!

Act 1: A dark take on the story of Sid, the antagonist of the 1995 movie “Toy Story”. Sid is driven mad by Andy’s toys, causing him to seek revenge. There’s always a backstory, and this was it!  

Act 2: A Macbeth spinoff with the characters fighting to become a disco king. (More entertaining than the original?)

Act 3: What if Sherlock was clueless instead of a genius?. This reimagining of the Holmes legend saw a ditsy version of the titular hero stumble through a case, trying to catch The Aylesbury slasher. (Kudos to the team for the local interest!)

BF Theatre Project
(I enjoyed) seeing people’s confidence develop, and seeing many of the group gain leadership skills in real time.
Gaining in confidence

Across the eight sessions the team got the chance to learn about different roles and career routes in the theatre, while also learning employability and transferrable skills, CV-writing, cover letters, interview techniques and numeracy from the Adviza team. During the workshop they gained confidence, teamwork, leadership and communication skills. They visibly grew in their ability to overcome barriers to work created by their mental health, and gained the confidence to ask employers how they can achieve the roles they are passionate about.

During the workshop, two of our participants reached out to the theatre’s technical team and are hoping to gain work-shadowing experience with a view to possible future employment. Another two secured part-time jobs and are investigating a return to college or training they had begun years before but discontinued, until inspired by the Waterside  creative learning team.  

Others have gone onto college and arranged work experience, or expressed interest in having more intensive support on their road to employment – something that is very much a part of the Building Futures service provision. 


Reflecting on the course, our Building Futures participants commented that they:

  • Feel they can identify transferrable skills now and are more confident in trying new things.
  • Feel happy and content with the course, are able to see growth and are happy they had the experience within the theatre.
  • Have more confidence in their abilities.
  • Gained Confidence and new skills.
  • Gained help with their social anxiety.
  • Felt they were helped to meet people and write their own show. 

BF Theatre project

Many (of the group) had anxiety and went from severely lacking confidence to forging real friendships and making future plans.

For Nicolle, the greatest rewards of the workshop were, “seeing people’s confidence develop, and seeing many of the group gain leadership skills in real time. Many had anxiety and went from severely lacking confidence to forging real friendships and making future plans, or from sitting quietly to demonstrating leadership skills within a group.”

A theatrically dramatic thank you to the Waterside Theatre team, who we can’t praise highly enough for their wonderful support, attentiveness and welcome throughout the workshop and our performance. 

Click to learn more about Building Futures 

About Building Futures

Building Futures is a dynamic partnership focussed on changing the lives of disadvantaged adults and young people across Buckinghamshire. This project is funded by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund which is administered by Buckinghamshire Council.

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is a central pillar of the UK government’s Levelling Up agenda and provides £2.6 billion of funding for local investment by March 2025. The Fund aims to improve pride in place and increase life chances across the UK investing in communities and place, supporting local business, and people and skills. For more information, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-shared-prosperity-fund-prospectus


3rd October 2023