When we sit down for a chat with Julie Caudle, Centre Director at Theatretrain Isle of Wight, it becomes easy to forget very quickly that the Isle of Wight feels like a million miles away. Very much part of the Theatretrain family, the group has an amazing atmosphere that Julie is immensely proud of.
One of the hallmarks of a Theatretrain group is the buzz; we talk about it all the time and to experience it is something that Centre Directors like Julie often find difficult to put into words but it’s almost always down to the same ingredients – devoted and passionate teachers that dedicate their time to teaching and the children themselves. “One of our teachers is a young energetic teacher who also works at a local school; students know he’s different at Theatretrain. Many of my teachers have been with me for a long time” Julie says.
Of the atmosphere she curates Julie says “I say to the students that it’s their time – we have a big group warmup and bit of a dance-off. It’s very high energy and I think they need that, you don’t know what’s gone on in their week. If I’ve had a bad week at work I need to go in with that high energy too. It can’t feel too much like school!” She also acknowledges the challenges lockdowns have had on some of the children. “You can tell the ones that are a little nervous about leaving their parents, they’re the ones that have struggled the most. That’s why I like to have the buzz.”
Theatretrain IOW certainly takes getting involved to heart. They are active in their local community, raising £616 for The Mountbatten Hospice from a recent concert put on by the centre showcasing songs from favourite musicals. In December they’ll be performing A World of Colour; a show promising uplifting performances and a chance to showcase the talent that the group has to offer.
On the topic of talent in the group, IOW’s very own student Fred Valvona recently auditioned for and landed a role in the professional production Journey’s End demonstrating the capabilities of the children and how far they can travel with the experienced guidance of their teachers.
Julie first opened her centre 21 years ago, and at the time there was nothing like it on offer for young people in the area. Fast forward to 2022 and there are performing arts groups in abundance but Julie remains confident in the magic that makes Theatretrain special. “I had a grandparent recently say she never thought she’d be here with her grandchild, all these years after bringing her own daughters to the group”, she says.
And Julie’s centre is creating waves across the island – they recently appeared in their own preview article for A World of Colour which you can read here.
You can follow Theatretrain IOW on social media using the links below, and if you’re local and want to know more about joining head on over to their website here.