Monday, 24 June 2013

What I learnt from being in Youth Theatre

By Sabrina Mahfouz

I went to a youth theatre and sang songs, mainly from Bugsy Malone. I was rubbish. I never got picked for any leads and when I occasionally did get a decent part, I was too shy to own the stage like those much shinier and straighter-haired girls seemed to do and so I stayed in the shadows. But I stayed.

And I learnt. About how far some people will go to get applause; about what shade of tights to wear on stage to make your legs look longer; about the importance of knowing your left foot from your right foot. But seeing as I work in theatre now, I know that I also learnt about the power of storytelling; of performing words to an audience and transporting them to another place; of the importance of theatre to comment on who we are, where we are and what we could be.

I would never have admitted it or perhaps even been conscious of it at the time, but I learnt how to speak louder when it was needed and to stay silent when the lines weren’t mine (my friends may disagree). I learnt that even if there is a spotlight on you, you still have to work extremely hard to light up the stage. You may like to think that an audience can collectively lie, but they can’t. You know when they’re with you and they know when what they’re seeing and hearing is something true.

I was never that good at speaking other people’s words on stage, but attempting to do it is without doubt what got me writing and subsequently performing my own words – so thank you, Bugsy Malone. Thank you, youth theatre.

To take part in Connections 2014 click here

To see Sabrina talk about her Connections 2014 play ‘A Shop Selling Speech’ click here

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