Let’s Launch Young Lives
Celebrating 21 years running, National Theatre Connections 500 brings 12 new plays to the stage. A hugely exciting project which supports young people, Connections 500 provides a platform for their voices to be shared.
After receiving a hugely warm welcome from those working at the National, we explored the display of Connections 500 at the Wolfson Gallery – finding several paper planes, filled with memories from those involved in previous years of the programme. Inspiring words are shared; how the experience helped them discover confidence and set foundations for their current success. Kate Mosse, Deputy Chair at the National introduced the evening with a spirited speech. Words change lives, Plays change lives – through Connections 500 a variety of communities and abilities get the chance to express themselves and chose how they want to be defined. Whether they want to be writers, directors, actors, lighting designers, set designers or crew, this programme encourages young people to believe that they can achieve and succeed. Watching her own son on stage, Mosse shared how momentous these productions can be, not just for those performing but for parents and all involved.
Connections 500 was kicked off by two groups, performing in the Dorfman Theatre. First up, Barbara Priestman Academy from Sunderland performed an upbeat, humour packed version of Lucinda Coxon’s ‘What Are They Like‘. Delving into how parents interact with their children, reflecting on their own behaviour as young adolescents, scared their children are repeating the mistakes and mischief they once made.
Each actor decides on a pair of shoes from the collection that line the front of the stage, a brilliantly imagined metaphor for these characters finding their feet. Instruments and physical theatre are used to tell Coxon’s story. The group tackle an array of difficult topics with humour and a keen understanding. It was clear throughout this production that the performers were enjoying their time on the stage.
The next production came as quite a shock, as 5 members of Take Part theatre group from South Wales stunned the audience and provoked a standing ovation. Performing Davey Anderson’s ‘Blackout‘, a play inspired by the true story of a young offender from Glasgow and his violent crimes in retaliation against being bullied at school. Callum Howells will be a name I am engraving on my memory, confident we will see him brace our London stages again. An impressive focus and thoroughly developed character led to a compelling and captivating performance from Howells. Supported by a group of four women, who executed physical theatre in perfect unison and gave an eerie atmosphere to this dark production. Absolutely fantastic. I would love to see this production on for a longer run, a chance for more audiences to see this powerful performance.
Witnessing the celebratory high each of these groups were feeling post performance made it clear that the change Connections 500 makes is an important one. Fuelling passions and feeding innovation.
Happy Birthday Connections 500!
Sounds great? Want to get involved? Pop to Connections 500 Take Part page and see how.
You can find the following performances at the Dorfman Theare:
What Are They Like, Lucinda Coxon – Barbara Priestman Academy
Blackout, Davey Anderson – Take Part
Take Away, Jackie Kay – ACTS
The Musicians, Patrick Marber – Hall for Cornwall Youth Theatre
Bedbug, Snoo Wilson + Gary Kemp + Guy Pratt – Theatre Royal Bath Theatre School
Bassett, James Graham – Peploe-Williams Acadamy
Eclipse, Simon Armitage – Oldham Theatre Workshop
It Snows, Bryrony Lavery + Steven Hoggett + Scott Graham – Llex Theatre
Citizenship, Mark Ravenhill – Hove Park School
I’m Spilling My Heart Out Here, Stacey Gregg – The Young Pretenders Theatre Company
Children of Killers, Katori Hall – See&Eye Theatre & Islington College
Gargantua, Carl Grose – Redbridge Youth Theatre Workshop
♥ Thank you to Theatre Bloggers for the invite!