Wander through the winding corridors of Birmingham’s fully student-led frightfully fantastic escape room in the heart of the city – complete with drinks and spectacle! Boasting an all-student cast and crew, the experience begs the question: are attitudes to young people beginning their careers in stage and screen changing?

Birmingham-based BOA Stage and Screen Production Academy’s circus-themed horror project Behind The Curtain opens its doors for a limited 2-night run at the Old Rep Theatre over October 30th and 31st. The experience allows participants to step “Into the carn-evil” and immerse themselves in the terrifying world of the Ringmasters’ crew, tricks and hijinks. “Audiences should expect a thrilling and frightening experience, created by hard-working students and staff,” according to George Blower, part of the marketing and social media team for the experience. 

This completely student-led spectacle combines the classic escape-room style with a side of circus horror, mischief and decadent dressing and costuming, complete with circus performance from Halesowen’s Cirque L’Amour Aerial Arts and Pole Academy. The event comes after a string of widely successful previous productions from the college - which aims to foster the talent of young people both on stage, screen and in the backstage arts - such as the popular Beauty and the Beast: The Musical at the same venue last Christmas.

“BOA Stage and Screen strives for students to unlock their potential, and get straight into the industry,” states teacher Madeleine Scott, “it’s about giving them enough practical skills and knowledge to allow them to pursue what it is they want to do.”

The Jewellery Quarter academy opened its doors to its first cohort just two years ago, and has partnered with prominent companies such as the Birmingham Royal Ballet, the Royal Shakespeare Company and PRG. It can be argued that now, more than ever, young people are being given more chances in the creative industry by bigger companies, such as the ones the college partners with.

While many in the industry say that these opportunities have always existed, Ruth Morgan of BOA Stage and Screen Production Academy states that, “Having been in the industry myself, I know that, as an 18-year-old, a lot of people don’t think that you have the right training. They think you have to go away for three years and do a degree… this should make sure that they have all the skills and training to go straight into the industry”.   

The very existence of this college, founded in 2021, can be argued to show that the barriers young people faced coming into the creative industries are slowly coming down. Coming back with a bang this show season, the college once again proves that its young people are nothing to be overlooked.  Be sure to prepare for grandeur, tricks and definitely a few treats this Halloween at the Old Rep Theatre – surely, there’s more tricks up this team’s sleeve than they’re letting on.