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Steph Meskell-Brocken graduated from the University of Chester in 2010 with a Master’s in Nineteenth Century Literature and Culture. Prior to this, she also studied her undergraduate degree in English at the University. Steph is currently working towards submitting her PhD in Youth Theatre and is also the Artistic Director for Minerva Arts, a Chester-based youth theatre group.

“I am from Chester and lived at home during my time at University, meaning I was able to continue my long-standing connection with Chester’s old theatre, The Gateway which closed during my second year. I had been a member of their Youth Theatre since 1998 and worked in the education department throughout my gap year. This experience influenced the direction my future career was going to take me in.

“I set up Minerva Arts in 2009 with fellow artist and University of Chester alumna, Hayley Wood, who moved to Thailand in 2011. The company came about after discovering common interests and, if we were honest, struggling to find work in the area that we wanted to move into. Both of us were passionate about using the arts with young people, providing them with different experiences from the norm, and pushing the boundaries of contemporary performance and art with young people.

“Throughout 2009 and 2010 we ran various projects for schools at the Dale Barracks in Upton and on behalf of other arts organisations until in 2011 we were handed the reins of the old Chester Gateway Youth Theatre. Up until this point, the group was in the hands of Off the Ground Theatre and I had continued to work as a director for them.

“From here on in, youth theatre became the core of our organization. The group that we took over in 2011 grew from six members to over twenty in the space of a year, and we moved from our city centre location to the Kingsway Campus with the support of the University. In 2014, we added a Primary age group based in the city centre and in 2015, our Malpas group began and has gone from strength to strength.

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“Nowadays I live in Manchester and no longer run the youth theatres on a face-to-face basis myself, instead we have an amazing team of practitioners working on the ground with the young people so that I can focus on the running of the business and the all-important role of getting funding to support our work. This includes our youth theatres alongside other projects such as our current Heritage Lottery Funded project ‘Souling’, and our work with ‘Stop Loan Sharks’ (please visit our website for more information). I also work on a freelance basis for a variety of different organisations throughout the North West and sit as a Trustee of the National Association of Youth Theatres.

“Over the past five years, our youth theatres have achieved some amazing things, performed in a wide variety of different spaces, awarded qualifications to young people, and given our members the chance to explore aspects of theatre and performance that they wouldn’t have been able to anywhere else. This is a message that we need to work really hard to communicate in the current climate of Chester where the performing arts are front and centre thanks to Storyhouse. There are now more choices than ever for young people to participate and we need to advocate our own unique approach in order to keep going.”

Minerva Youth Theatre’s (MYT) groups are all open for new members. There is no audition process and the first session is always a no obligation free taster. Our fees are great value and kept low to maintain accessibility, however we also offer various discounts and deals.

  • MYT Seniors (11-18s) meets every Wednesday in term time, 7-9pm at the Kingsway Campus.
  • MYT 711 (7-11s) meets every Saturday in term time, 10am-12 at the Unity Centre, Cuppin Street, Chester.
  • MYT Malpas Youth Theatre (8-13s) meets every Thursday in term time, 6-8pm at Malpas Young Persons Centre.

Minerva Arts would also like to offer an exclusive discount to any University of Chester alumni! If you have a child who would like to join one of the groups, you can receive 15% off your fees by quoting ALUMNI. Please contact for more information.

Have you started your own business? Do you have a story to share? If so, we would love to hear from you! Tell us what you’ve been up to since graduating by emailing or drop us a message on social media.

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