Monday, 25 June 2012

Youth Theatre is Great (and so is Socialism)

Aren Goetcherian, Young Journalist, rounds up Day 4 of Connections at the NT

On Saturday we were privileged enough to see two more examples of great writing and great performances. ‘Victim Sidekick Boyfriend Me’, performed by Marine Academy Plymouth, looked at the ability to slip through the cracks after doing something wrong, and the consequences of doing so, while ‘Socialism is Great’, performed by Group 64, from London, looked at the widely varying ideals and realities amongst the different classes of modern day China. Both plays were specially written for the Connections Festival, but, perhaps more importantly, both plays were specifically written to be played by young people.

While the youth of the UK are so often criticised, the Connections Festival aims to celebrate youth theatre, and Saturday’s performances certainly proved testament to the hard work of young people. Hilary Bell (writer of ‘Victim Sidekick Boyfriend Me’) said it was ‘a real privilege’ to be able to work in conjunction with the Connections Festival, and with such promising young performers. Anders Lustgarten (writer of ‘Socialism is Great’) told me how satisfying it was to see young people performing in a professional context. ‘There was no ego, no nonsense’ he told me after the performance. The Connections Festival as a whole, however, certainly shows the enthusiasm of young people, and shows how opportunities like this are essential in encouraging this hard work. Both writers expressed how incredible an opportunity the Festival is, not only for the young people, but also for themselves as writers, neither having written a play exclusively for young people before this. It makes me wish there were already more plays that youth theatre groups could grab and use, and tweak into their own visions.
Socialsim is Great, Photo: Simon Annand
The National Theatre is a far bigger arena than either of these companies has ever experienced, but despite how daunting it may have seemed to perform in such a venue, there was an overwhelming sense of enthusiasm and excitement. Being lucky enough to sit in on the dress rehearsals and vocal warm-up, it was clear that the one common factor between all of the performers was their enjoyment of the experience. The Marine Academy group told me how their closeness as friends brought support as well as fun to the rehearsals, with ‘banter’ being named by the group as one of the most enjoyable things about the Festival (more than evident in their vocal warm-up and their sign language conversation with some members of the public outside the NT’s pop-up see-through rehearsal space sent giggles all round). For some it was the experience of the big city that was just as exciting as the performance. One cast member from Marine Academy Plymouth told me that this was the furthest she’d ever been from home (some three hour train journey away). ‘The tube was less packed than I thought it would be’, another cast member added (they clearly managed to avoid the rush hour – an achievement in itself if you ask me).
Victim, Sidekick, Boyfriend, Me, Photo: Simon Annand

For writers and performers alike, therefore, it seems that the National Theatre’s Connections Festival provides a fantastic opportunity to blow many stereotypes of young people away, and simultaneously breath some new life into the world of theatre. It was refreshing for me to see young people perform with such enthusiasm and professionalism, while never forgetting to enjoy the experience.

No comments:

Post a Comment