Mandala is dedicated to long-term creative arts training for young people embedded in Oxford in partnership with local NGOs and arts organisations. This is delivered through Mandala Courses which are open to all young people age 16-25 years and are 7- or 12-week courses at specific times throughout the year and through a Young Company. Mandala Young Company uses the model of a professional company to engage, train and develop high-quality performances for public audiences in Oxford and where possible to take them further afield. This enables many disadvantaged young people to have access for the first time to theatre and professional directors and actors.
Being an ambassador for the city of Oxford is hugely important to our work, particularly involvement with international cultural exchange. We have seen the changes these connections and integration bring about in young people, how it opens their minds to a greater understanding of diverse cultures, of their role in Europe and more widely as citizens and gives them the skills to reflect on and develop their own abilities.
Mandala Young Company
This company is for young people who are looking to dedicate more time to the theatre and who are likely to want to go on to study theatre or become a professional performer. The company is semi-professional and works with a professional ethos and expectations. Young people from BAME and White working-class backgrounds especially are invited to take part in a workshop audition, most of the young people will have participated in our Mandala Courses first. Each year there will be a mix of new members and old members who make up the company to keep continuity and enable mentoring.
2020 – April & June/ July – We should have been rehearsing ‘Blood Oil’ by Sean Burn in April and June and performing at the Offbeat Festival, Oxford, before performing and participating in the 10 day – Ashtar International Youth Theatre Festival, Ramallah, Palestine in July. We were also meant to be officially launching the Oxford City and Ramallah twinning partnership. Due to Covid-19 all of this had to be cancelled and is postponed until April & July 2021. 10 young people will join the company.
Audition workshops will be announced in Latest news updates, email if you are interested.
Mandala Current Courses
These courses will all be for young people age 16 to 25 years, especially those from BAME and White working-class backgrounds:
1) Youth Leadership Courses – 7 & 12-week courses enabling young people to be trained in
creative workshop facilitation and workshop planning with the aim of them becoming paid youth
2) Social Justice Theatre courses - 7 & 12-week courses where young people will learn how to create theatre for social justice, exploring the aims, process and stimulus in how to create a piece of theatre focused on social justice issues.
3) Acting Techniques for ‘Theatre of Being’ - 7 & 12-week courses taking young performers through a process that develops their acting techniques enabling them as actors to be authentic, embodied and ‘being’ rather than ‘acting’ a character.
We aim to start these courses with up to 60 young people from October 2020. This will be dependent on the Covid-19 situation, but we look to deliver workshops online too.
(Course dates will be announced in our Latest News please email if you are local and interested in joining)
Mandala was due to offer up to 17 student Placements starting in March 2020 and continuing over the next year. They give young people the opportunity to work with Mandala Theatre Company on our professional and young company shows and projects. Working in Partnership with the Faculty of the Arts and Business at City of Oxford College.
We aim to offer up to 17 Placements throughout the year to young people at City of Oxford College. There are many different options and skills within our Placement programme including: Arts Administration; Marketing and Social Media; Filming and Photography; Producing; Assistant Directing; Choreography; Costume design; Set building; Poster design and making; Acting; Each Placement has a Job Description and students will be interviewed for the various roles.
Due to Covid-19 this is now postponed until autumn 2020 or spring 2021. (See Latest news for updates. Email: if you are interested)
City of Oxford College (Activate Learning) working with BAME and White working-class young people studying Performing Arts (BTEC) using scripted texts, devised monologues and drama techniques to encourage the young people to create narratives about their sense of belonging and identity, writing individual monologues and sharing them with each other through dramatic performance. 8 young people x 7-week course with young people age 16-20 years.
May - July 2019
Meadowbrook Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) and Northfield School working in weekly sessions over two months with young people who were excluded from school. This was an exploration of ‘Exclusion’ and ‘Inclusion’ in School through practical creative exercises, discussion and drama techniques with a focus on the choices made by young people and the choices made by people in their lives. (The course also fed into our ‘Pipeline’ professional R&D work). 20 young people x 15 sessions age 12 – 16 years.
August - October 2018
Mandala in partnership with Oxfordshire Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children’s Team (UASCT) – 12-week course for young people age 16-18 years, from Oxford Spires Academy, especially those from diverse backgrounds and for young people seeking asylum. The young people were immersed in Devising Techniques, Creative writing and other Drama and Movement exercises, for most of them it was the first time they had participated in a Drama project. The project enabled them to create, write and perform their own words and group scenes on what it means to ‘belong’ in a place, what your identity is and the similarities and differences of those who were born in Oxford and those who have come here from other places and cultures. Also, what were the journeys that brought them and their families to Oxford? 12 sessions x 15 young people age 16 – 25 years, 1 performance at the UASCT Conference to 300 Audience Members.
Mandala at Modern Art Oxford (MAO) used MAO’s exhibition ‘A Slice through the World: Contemporary Artists’ Drawings’ as a stimulus for creating monologues in response to the exhibition with 2 promenade performances through the Exhibition. Worked with a diverse group of young people from Fitzharry’s School over 3 intensive days. 6 sessions x 20 young people age 13 -16 years, 2 performances to 100 Audience Members.
2017 May/ June – Mandala at Ark-T Centre, Oxford - This course explored ideas about ‘Place, Identity and Belonging’ in relation to young people’s connection or disconnection to the communities they live in.
1) The reasons and causes of disconnection
2) The outcomes that this disconnection can lead to;
3) Why some young people manage to stay connected and others don't;
We used Devising Techniques, Role Play, Creative writing and other Drama exercises, participants created, wrote and performed their own and group monologues as a response to the theme to invited audience. 7-week course for 15 young people, plus 1 performance to 50 Audience Members.
Mandala at Modern Art Oxford (MAO) responding to Lubaina Himid’s Exhibition: Invisible Strategies, through drama, theatre and creative writing and to devise and perform monologues as a response to the exhibition, creation of a promenade performance through the exhibition. Open to all young people age 16-25 years, especially those from BAME and White working-class backgrounds. 7-week course for 15 young people, plus 2 performances to 100 Audience Members.
Refugee Resource, Oxford – Focused on developing acting and creative writing techniques to explore the theme of ‘Place, identity and Belonging’ monologues. Working with young people seeking Asylum and Refugees age 15 -25 years, we worked with them in weekly sessions over 4 months. 15 young people x 32 sessions.
April & June/July 2019
A partnership and exchange between Mandala Young Company, Histoires 100 Fins and Créarc from Grenoble, France. ‘Lucifer and Miss Primrose’ inspired by Paulo Coehlo, adapted by Yasmin Sidhwa, a fire and theatre show which explored ‘What does it mean to be human?’. Young people from Grenoble were hosted in Oxford in April by Oxford-Grenoble Twinning members and joined by young people from Mandala Young Company.
The Oxford and Grenoble young people spent every day together rehearsing, eating meals and socialising. Rehearsals were intensive over the 12 days in Oxford. They performed 5 outdoor shows in Oxford to an audience of 600+ people. In June Mandala Young Company travelled to Grenoble to re-rehearse with the young people from Histories 100 Fins and Crearc. They presented their performance and participated in the 10-day International Youth Theatre Festival – Rencontre.
October to July - 2017/2018
‘Antigone’ by Roy Williams this is an epic story of power, corruption and warring families, set in contemporary gang culture. Rehearsals weekly and at weekends from October 2017 to June 2018. Performance at Offbeat Festival Oxford and Q&A. Performance and participation in the 10-day International Youth Theatre Festival – Rencontre, Grenoble, France.
‘Collector of Tears’ by Sean Burn this project focused on oppression and sexuality through the ages to the modern day. Rehearsals March – June with intensive during Easter holidays. Performance at Offbeat Festival Oxford and Q&A. Performance and participation in the 10-day international Youth Theatre Festival – Rencontre, Grenoble, France.
Mandala Young Company were also invited to perform and participate in workshops at Heidelberg University of Education, Heidelberg, Germany in December 2017 where they performed ‘Collector of Tears’ to public and school’s audiences.
‘Night Light’ by Nadia Edwards the focus of the project was on ‘Belonging’ and the stories of young people who seek asylum in the UK. Rehearsals Easter Holidays in April to integrate the Young Company into the professional company show ‘Night Light’ to perform at and participate in a 10-day International Youth Theatre Festival – Rencontre, Grenoble, France.