News Story

A group of young people stand in a line in a warehouse. They are smiling and all wearing coats.

In November 2023, we offered ten young people aged 18-25 living in Brent the chance to get paid, hands-on experience in scenic arts, carpentry, or props and set dressing. 

They were part of a team transforming our 3,000 square foot warehouse in Wembley into an immersive arts space for the Brent community, gaining valuable skills and experience in the process.

As we open Punchdrunk Enrichment Stores to the public for the first time, we spoke to two key participants in the project – Charlotte Gainey, Scenic Arts Lead, and Masiha Kazemzadeh, a Brent Young Maker – for their reflections on the experience. 

Charlotte Gainey: Scenic Arts Lead

Charlotte’s interest in scenic arts began with a poster advertising backstage theatre training at the National Youth Theatre. “I was interested in theatre but had no idea what any specific roles were. I took a chance and applied anyway," she recalled. Taking this first step led her to study Theatre Practice, specialising in Scenic Art at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, and eventually into a varied career working in the UK and internationally from West End shows to Olympic events. 

Her ambition as the Head of Scenic Arts on the Brent Young Makers project was to establish the importance of collaboration between the professionals and the young makers: "We concentrated on establishing a team mentality and looked at working from real references to inform our practice.”

For Charlotte, the most rewarding aspect of the experience was witnessing the achievements of the young makers: “To witness the joy in someone's eyes when they achieve more than they ever thought possible is a privilege.” Charlotte tailored her mentoring approach to ensure that tasks and new skills were manageable, rather than daunting. She explained that “if you are shown how to use the tools, you can bring something of yourself to the task, which in turn encourages engagement and ownership.”

Looking forward, she hopes that the young makers have discovered "a little bit of belief—belief in themselves and an insight into a world they might not have known existed."

Masiha Kazemzadeh: Brent Young Maker

Masiha discovered the Brent Young Makers project through the Brent Portal run by the local council: "I applied because I saw Punchdrunk Enrichment on there. I didn’t think I would get it, so when I got called for the first phase to see the warehouse, I was really surprised.”

She had always been interested in creative arts but didn’t see it as a viable career option, thinking university was the only path. When she applied, she didn’t have experience relating to theatre or scenic arts. 

As part of the Scenic Art team, Masiha’s responsibilities included painting walls, texturing ceilings, and making spaces look lived-in: "We were the middle ground between the carpentry and the set dressing, making sure everything was done in time and to a good standard.” Under Charlotte’s mentorship, Masiha learned how important attention to detail was to make a new space look like it had existed for years. 

She was surprised by how much thought went into making a scene look authentic: “It's not just about making a wall look old; there’s a method behind it. Each thing we did was so carefully thought out.” For example, one of her favourite tasks was using a paint gun to scatter texture on a wall.

The experience boosted her confidence and made her re-consider the possibility of a career in design: "Being in an environment where everyone is talented and has a proper job made me really appreciate that you can have a good career doing something you actually like.”

One of the most memorable moments was seeing the finished space during the celebration day, where Punchdrunk Enrichment Stores was unveiled to an invited group of local guests. She was able to share the achievement with her mum and sister. 

For those considering similar programmes, Masiha’s advice is straightforward: "Just do it and put yourself out there. The amount of things that have come from just signing up for that first step is amazing."

If this experience has inspired you to pick up some new skills you can join one of our Introduction to Design masterclasses this July.

Or if you’d just like to come and see the space for yourself check out Enitan’s Gameour new immersive family show taking place at Punchdrunk Enrichment Stores. We have ‘grown-ups only’ performances, including a Q&A with a member of the creative team, on Tuesdays throughout August.