The Power of Good

The clever teenagers behind the ground-breaking TCSC Creative Group.

Teens Samuel Tomaszyk and Ciaran McGettigan are the smarts behind TCSC Creative Group – a organisation that promotes social equality through performance.

When most 13-year-old boys were coming home from school, smashing a loaf of bread and plonking themselves in front of the TV, Sam Tomaszyk and Ciaran McGettigan were launching a company.

A company that would provide a vehicle for creative expression for hundreds of youth. A company that would challenge stereotypes and start conversations. A company that would introduce audiences to a whole new concept of theatre.  

“We started TCSC Creative Group [formerly known as The Charitable Stage Co] as a way to explore our own passion for the arts — especially art performed with an element of social justice,” says Ciaran, the technical brains behind TCSC and the company’s general manager. “We wanted to
use our skills to create change within society and we have a call to working with youth,” adds Sam, TCSC’s artistic director. “Their stories are what fuel our work, so it’s not surprising we have a focus
on mental health awareness.”

It’s hard to believe Ciaran and Sam are just 17 years old, right?

Over the past four years, the duo have transformed TCSC from a casual hobby to a multi-faceted
and rapidly growing local business. “TCSC started as a bunch of friends getting together to do school shows and musicals,” Sam recalls. “I was a dancer and gymnast, which led to the aerial work I do now, while Ciaran was into sound, lighting and technical elements.”

TCSC Creative Group is now the umbrella company for both TCSC Productions (theatrical shows)
and Fusion Studios, a Te Puke-based arts facility offering drama, creative dance and acro-dance classes. It’s also the name behind various community-based initiatives, such as the Creative
Futures Programme.

“This programme offers a certain number of underprivileged kids and teens free access to our weekly Fusion classes,” Sam explains. “Dance can be expensive, so this is our way of giving back to the community and trying to make creative expression available to more people. We also have a number of side projects on the go, like working with schools to create social media videos about equality.”

Samuel Tomaszyk (left) and Ciaran McGettigan.

Self-taught Success

Since launching TCSC, Sam and Ciaran have worked hard to learn the ins and outs of the industry
as well as the fundamentals of running a business. “Our skills are largely self taught,” says Sam.
“At school, we were given a specific way of learning and thinking, and since my brain didn’t work
that way, I’d always question things — why can’t we make a dance about the topic rather than
write an essay?”

“I remember Sam doing speeches at primary school,” adds Ciaran. “It wouldn’t be a normal
speech; it was almost a show in itself. Today, we balance each other out nicely. Sam comes up
with the extravagant ideas, then I back them up with the technical knowledge. We haven’t had
any mentors as such, we’ve just learned along the way.” Ciaran’s skills are all the more impressive when you consider the fact he left school in year nine (yep, when he was 13 years old!). “I left school around the time we started TCSC,” he says. “My parents let me do correspondence, which was the best decision for me personally. I was free to do my own thing alongside schoolwork.”

“Although Ciaran left school very early, he’s so intelligent with his ability to develop ideas and
run a business,” says Sam. “Ciaran chose ‘real world’ learning and it worked for him.”

Starting a Dialogue

Sam and Ciaran’s art is performed with a contagious energy and flair, but it also explores some
very serious underlying messages. “Over the past four years, people have asked us why we haven’t focused on a trade or sports,” says Ciaran. “And this is exactly the type of conversation we want
to start — we want to show people that there’s no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to life.”

“As a young person who’s more ‘feminine’, I’ve experienced pressure to not share what’s frustrating
or hurting me,” Sam explains. “Fear of judgement, depression, anxiety and teen suicide are massive issues because people are bottling up their feelings. We want our work to show people that it’s okay to express themselves, that it’s okay to talk.”

The success of TCSC’s shows and programmes demonstrates the positive ripple effect it has on young people’s lives here in the Bay of Plenty. “Not everyone is gifted in the arts,” says Sam.
“We work with a mixture of people for every show – some have been attending dance school
since the age of five and others have never danced before. It’s about bringing people together
and growing as a group.”

“Our last show, Flying Hope, was a true representation of that,” adds Ciaran. “Being able to witness the development of the people involved, and see their confidence levels soar, was so rewarding.”

“Fear of judgement, depression, anxiety and teen suicide are massive issues because people are bottling up their feelings. We want our work to show people that it’s okay to express themselves, that it’s okay to talk.”

The Power of Silence

TCSC’s next show is a contemporary circus/dance production that follows the story of a young
boy who has a beautifully creative mind, but is told his emotions, ideas and aspirations aren’t acceptable. “The Power of Silence follows a boy’s journey through anger and frustration at not
being able to express who he is because of the stereotype of what it means to be masculine.
He’s a boy who’s teased, broken and mad. But he’s also destined to rise above others and break
a cycle of silence,” says Sam.

With a mixture of dance, violinists, aerialists (performing aerial silks and aerial hoops), film and projection, The Power of Silence is tipped to be TCSC’s biggest and best show yet. Sam is the
show’s director and choreographer, and Ciaran is the producer. “There are some very talented
young people involved in this show, and we’ll be using new and exciting projection techniques to convey emotion and create an atmosphere,” explains Ciaran. “When it comes to drawing crowds,
it’s always hard to compete with cinemas, but we’ve managed to turn the most unlikely people into theatre fans over the years. Live shows are powerful in that sense.”

“We give a lot of tickets away to mental health organisations and schools because we want as
many people as possible to enjoy our shows,” says Sam. “Our vision is always an audience full
of different cultures and backgrounds…we want the youngest baby and the oldest person in Tauranga to come along!

“We do what we do because we love seeing passionate youth work hard to express ideas to a
public audience. We’re truly not in this business for the money. We’re in it to change the world.”

Joshua and Karlina at rehearsals for the upcoming show, The Power of Silence.

The season for The Power of Silence is currently postponed due
to COVID-19 restrictions, but keep an eye out for the show at Baycourt Community & Arts Centre once it re-opens.

Story by Laura Tuck
Photography by ilk