Students and staff are celebrating the 20 year anniversary of a theatre partnership between Barnsley College and Harbor College in Los Angeles.

Jenny Miccoli, Vice Principal for Teaching, Learning and Student Support at Barnsley College, met drama and theatre teacher Larry Heimgartner from LA 21 years ago when she was also a teacher of theatre and choreography based at Barnsley College’s Electric Theatre. Since their first meeting the pair have worked with young people all over the world organising exchange visits for students and bringing tours of theatre performances to Barnsley on issues which affect young people such as HIV and AIDS, bullying and gun crime.

Jenny said: “The partnership came about after I realised I had found someone with the same passion to make the world a better place through physical performance. We both had a concern for disadvantaged and vulnerable young people and recognised that we had the ability to help them celebrate diversity in communities through theatre. The rest is history, as years later it is still happening.”

Over the years Jenny and Larry have developed the idea to further engage students emotionally and intellectually through theatre. On his latest visit to Barnsley College, Larry set the Performing Arts HNC students from University Campus Barnsley (UCB) a task to produce a piece of theatre in just three days. Larry met with the students and they discussed the stimulus of the internet and social media, the students then did research and devised a short emotive piece called ‘Look Up’ which they performed to Larry, his colleagues, Barnsley College staff and Performing Arts students.

After the performance Jenny presented Larry with a trophy celebrating the 20 year partnership. Larry said: “I’m accepting this on behalf of the hundreds of people who have been involved in the project. I’m really just a schoolteacher, I believe in the future and the young people need to carry this experience with them, they can change the world. The performance they devised in just three days was amazing.”

The HNC in Performing Arts course at UCB was created specifically to develop the partnership with Los Angeles Harbor College. Students will have opportunities to visit LA and will be encouraged to develop the performance of ‘Look Up’ to tour schools and colleges in the future.

Student Charlotte Waxman said: “I studied at Barnsley College and had the opportunity to visit LA, but I had to drop out at the last minute. When I realised Larry would be involved in the course at UCB I really wanted to be part of it.

“It’s been great to have the opportunity to work with the London actors Larry brought with him, they have encouraged us to look beyond Barnsley for opportunities nationally and internationally.”

For more information about Performing Arts courses at Barnsley College and UCB please call 01226 216 123 or email info@barnsley.ac.uk.