Young performers from Kirkgate Youth Theatre are presenting an original, sold-out show 'Following My Footsteps'.

The theatre production, taking to the stage tonight (December 7), examines identity and heritage, with each of its two acts telling a distinct story.

Act One, presented by the Young Performers aged between nine and 13, is a West Cumbria-rooted tale about a bear caught between his own identity and societal expectations.

The show was built from lots of workshops exploring the children’s own sense of identity.

In Act Two, the Young Actors aged between 13 and 18 present an intricate web of stories.

The teenagers spent many weeks sharing their own family histories with each other, tracing lineages from different parts of the world.

Letitia Thornton, a professional drama practitioner leading the Kirkgate Youth Theatre, said: "We created a fictional girl, Emma, played wonderfully by Maia, and all her fictional family are a mixture of real family members and stories from the whole group.

"We used names from everyone's real histories for our characters and we show the pivotal moments when people decided to move and leave their homes, tracing how ‘Emma’ ended up in Cockermouth."

Most of the young participants revealed at least one parent originating from outside Cumbria.

Miss Thornton said: "However, I didn’t want to ignore those whose heritage goes back right here, and one of our members had a fund of stories about, for example his Grandmother who worked in the carpet factory in Salterbeck, and his Grandfather who worked in the steel works in Workington. So that went into the play too."

The theatre leader expressed her privilege of working with the talented youth.

She said: "It’s been an absolute privilege to create theatre alongside this group of talented young people who have worked with an amazing openness, enthusiasm and commitment.

"I think the discussions about who they are, about what it’s like living in Cumbria and the sharing of family histories gave them a real sense of shared identity whilst recognising and appreciating how different we all are too."

'Following My Footsteps' forms an integral part of the larger 'In My Shoes' project by Kirkgate Arts and Heritage to promote West Cumbria’s diverse heritage.

Participants of the show conveyed their excitement about the venture.

"It was really interesting building characters based off real people," said Kelsey.

Grace added: "I feel as though we grew closer as a group during the making of our play.

"Now we are really good friends who can have a good laugh."

Bethan mentioned how enriching it was to explore her co-casts' family histories.

She said: "I really enjoyed working with the rest of the cast, and finding out about their family histories was particularly interesting. I feel so lucky to be part of a cast with such amazing people."