New Website!

April 7, 2010

Dear visitor,

A Younger Theatre has outgrown its home as a blog hosted on wordpress in this location. We have a new website, which is bigger, better and bursting full of young people with their views and opinions on theatre.

There are reviews, resources and above all, a platform for young people.

The new website can be found at: AYoungerTheatre.com – please update your bookmarks accordingly.

Thanks for visiting, come over to the new site, and see what we’re all about.
Jake
A Younger Theatre


News: Playing Shakespeare

February 15, 2010

Some of the young audience members at Playing Shakespeare

The very thought of Shakespeare at school sent shivers down my spine. I use to complain and moan when we would have to brandish ourselves with the work of the Bard. Why, and more to the point how do we know that this Shakespeare line is meant to mean this? The answer of “because it is”, never really filled me with much joy.

Of course, now a few years down the line and a wider knowledge of theatre has led me to believe that actually Shakespeare and his works is not only important for us to know of as British citizens but also vital in understanding how theatre has developed. A part of this undertaking of accepting the work of Shakespeare as a pleasure rather than pain seems to be a prominent feature of the work from The Globe Theatre.

Enter Stage Left: Playing Shakespeare

Back in 2006 The Globe Theatre embarked on a challenge to change perspectives of young people towards Shakespeare in education by actively engaging them in the core of the theatres work. Some 4 years down the line and the Education work of the Globe Theatre is immense, and possibly unknown to most people.

In March 2010 The Globe Theatre will once again be bringing their Playing Shakespeare programme to the hearts of students and young people aged 11 to 14 by giving away 14,000 free tickets to their production of Macbeth, along with other free tickets for members of the public on special open performances.

Not only are they providing the opportunity to engage with the work directly through their free ticketing scheme but the resources available for the participants is both impressive and huge. There are in-depth and interactive web resources (what a better way to engage with young people these days!), professional developement days for teachers and even in-school workshops.

Shakespeare is finally open to our younger generations through a means that doesn’t throw scene after scene down their necks expecting them to understand the meaning. The online resources allow for discussions, insights into the characters and plot in a method that younger people understand and already engage with.

To get an idea of the sort of engagement that the Globe Theatre are portraying check out their Playing Shakespeare website at www.playingshakespeare.org which will shortly be bursting to life in the coming months.

A big thumbs up to the Educational department at the Globe Theatre for continuing to get rid of that horrible feeling that Shakespeare is not accessible, the truth: It is.

For more information see the Globe Education website on www.globe-education.org


Twespians – A Revolution?

February 3, 2010

Take one part theatre, and one part twitter. What is the outcome? Twespians.

Last night I was lucky enough to be part of a mini revolution in the way that I communicate with people in theatre, by taking part in a TweetUp. The idea of a tweetup is essentially a group of Twitter users meet at a set location and time to mingle, talk and have a good few drinks. Twespians is the theatre version.

I’ll be open and admit that the effect that Twitter has had upon my life is quite strong. It’s allowed me to express a huge passion I have with other equally passionate people. It has scored me tickets for shows, and equally kept me up to date with the latest theatre news and gossip. Andrew Llyod Webber has cancer? Through Twitter. Peter Brook as part of the new Bite Festival. Twitter. Too Close To The Sun, the biggest flop to hit west end … Twitter. What about the Donmar’s bad attempt at recycling old brochures? Reported through TwitPic, and Twitter.

Twitter has allowed me to connect with people from all over the world, who share the same drive and passion that I have. It’s a slow process, that develops over the course of many months. Conversation is brief but to the point, with only 140 characters there is no waffling allowed. Strictly a ‘to the point’ matter.

Whilst all of this is great for communicating over the internet, what happens when you bring these people together in the real world? Twespians answered this questionl last night, by organising a TweetUp as part of Social Media Week.

Upon arrival you are given a name badge to which you fill in your username and favourite show. You get yourself a drink at the bar, and then you begin to talk to people. The course of the night is extremely varied, depending on who you talk with. There are several people who I’ve met off Twitter to see various shows with before, yet equally there are those who I’ve solely spoken to through 140 characters at a time.

The night was absurd, surreal and brilliant all at once.

To have in one room, such a mix of people from all forms of theatre interests and jobs – talking together is remarkable. From journalists, bloggers, actors, directors, students, social media artists, administrators, marketers and facilitators. You almost have to take a moment to take in what is actually happening around you.

If Twitter is to be integrated more into the theatre industry then it is through an event such as Twespians TweetUp that we can begin to break down these boundaries of theatre roles, and begin to work towards something greater. What that is I don’t know. Networkings, Jobs, Drinking Buddies… well… the possibilities are too vast to list.

One thing that did strike me though is the possibilities of such an event. A group of students from Queen Mary’s University studying Drama and Physical Theatre joined the event. Hearing their passion for an industry they are desperate to be in is inspiring, yet equally their craving for information and advice from people already working or performing showed how useful such an event can be to people.

People can laugh at the way in which people engage with the internet and social media, but there is no denying the power and potential it has. If you can write an opera through twitter and produce full length twitter plays – what can you do with it?

Interested in Twespians? Check out of the website and twitter account for more information. The next Twespians TweetUp will be announced shortly, so stayed tuned.


January Theatre Opportunities

January 8, 2010

A new year, a new decade, and a whole host of new theatre opportunities to get yourself involved in. I can’t help but to think that a lot of the times fantastic opportunities come and go without even people knowing about them. When I was researching my January Theatre Opportunities highlights I found a series of great opportunities that literally had a day left to apply for – why aren’t they posted more on the internet, I wondered? Why haven’t I heard of them at all? How many other people miss out because they simply don’t find out about these opportunities?

Enough of the questions, here are some of my picks for January that are worth a look over for getting more actively involved in theatre.

National Youth Theatre Auditions – This organisation is truly up there with some of the best for young people who want to get involved in theatre. Whilst I have never been actively involved in NYT, their involvement in theatre sends ripples through any theatrically minded person. With a proven track record of supporting and promoting the talent of young people, it’s a wonder why any budding young thespian is not queuing up around the corner to audition.

The application date has been extended to 28th January, and with a ‘no previous experience needed’ approach to auditions anyone can get a shot at being part of nationally recognised youth theatre.

National Youth Theatre Website

Performance Innovations – A project designed to give “entrepreneurial skills and develop innovative and enterprising practice with performing arts practitioners.” This is a course aimed at graduates from performing arts courses, to enroll on the ‘Performance Innovations’ course to give a boost to your understanding of developing work, promoting it, and exploring ways of development. What makes this course so unique is that it is grounded from a practical perspective – you will create performances and work within the course, but also learn what to do with this beyond and in the ‘real world’.

Are you seeking a successful career in the Performing Arts? Are you thinking of setting up a company or similar? Then Performance Innovations might be for you.

I can’t quite do what this course does much justice, so I advise you to actually read about the course yourself here.

If it sounds like something as a graduate you are interested in – then they are holding a seminar/information event on the 18th January at the London Metropolitian University. All the details can be found on their website.

International Youth Arts Festival Submissions – Working with the Rose Theatre in Kingston this festival promotes the arts in all it’s forms coming from the younger generations. It’s great to see a festival dedicated to putting the lime light to those people who are going to be the next theatre makers and essentially our future of arts. The festival running in July 2010 is a week long, at the Rose Theatre and is sure to be a hit this summer.

Applications are open until 31st January to take part in the festival. If you’re between 0-25 years old and have a performance / event / creative flair you can apply to be part of the festival. They are also accepting applications from adults with work based for young people. There really is no restrictions for applications, and they welcome all arts related performers/performances or arts producers/managers.

Pleasance Scratch – The Pleasance Theatre possibly best known for their comedy work at the Edinburgh Festival is slowly gaining a reputation for their work in contemporary theatre and dance. Last year they were part of the SUSPENSE Festival, the first London puppetry festival in 25 years, and later in 2010 they will be the venue of choice for the Cloud Dance Festival a thrice-yearly contemporary dance platform for new and emerging dance companies. Now the Pleasance Theatre are launching a Scratch night for new and established theatre companies to try out their devised work.

Scratch nights are a great way to experiment with new work in front of an audience who understand that what they are seeing is a work in progress. Feedback is sometimes provided, so it’s a great opportunity to get involved from an audiences point of view too.

If you’re interested in performing at the Pleasance Scratch then email cassandra@pleasance.co.uk with a brief outline of the work (20 minutes worth).

Internships – A quick look at the Internships available for this month in theatre

BAC – Comms Intern – 11th January
Oval House Theatre – Theatre Intern – 8th January
Tara Arts – Press and Marketing Intern – 15th January

If you know of any other opportunities you feel are worth a mention then please either give me an email for future posts, or just leave a comment below.


Sacred Festival – Chelsea Theatre

October 19, 2009

Sacred FestivalLondon is most certainly a buzzing place, bursting full of life and events, so much so that it can sometimes be a bit difficult to focus on what might be worth a trip to and what just gets buried under the heap of other things that happening. Shamefully, theatre is one of those things that easily saturated with new shows, events and even festivals, meaning a lot gets missed.

Festivals, bringing together artists, shows, discussions, and generally speaking a whole excitement of culture are not to be missed. Especially that of Theatre Festivals, so let me draw your attention to the Sacred Festival being held next week at the Chelsea Theatre. It’s well worth a look.

The Sacred Festival has been running since 2006 at the Chelsea Theatre and has magically passed under my radar each year. However with the sort of line up within this years festival, I struggle to see how it’s not the talk of the town… yet. The festival focuses on Contemporary Theatre and whilst this is quite a broad spectrum, 2009 see’s the Chelsea Theatre linked with leading Austrian venue, Brut in Vienna and a whole host of leading and well known contemporary theatre practitioners.

The festival has so many promising events and shows that its hard to know where to begin, but here are a few highlights that should be noted in your diaries:

The Merry Widow by Cezary Tomaszewski

The Merry Widow by Cezary Tomaszewski

First comes Cezary Tomaszewski’s new production, an operetta called The Merry Widow. What is most intriguing about Tomaszewski’s production is that it uses four real-life Polish cleaning ladies. Taking the piece into quite an interesting dimension which promises to “free the genre from the dusts of simplicity and naivety and succeeds in placing into the centre of attention those who are otherwise almost wholly excluded from cultural creative processes.”

I'm Thinking Of Your (Version 2) by Franco B

I'm Thinking Of Your (Version 2) by Franco B

Franco B, a well known performance artist for using his body as a canvas for performance will be presenting his new show, I’m Thinking Of You (Version 2). Seeking to “present a surreal, dreamlike image… a romantic vision of childhood fantasy and abandon. The body is central, but we are also presented with objects and music, which converge to take the viewer through a contemplative, personal experience.” It will most certainly be one of the highlights of the festival for me, having heard of Franco B through many methods.

Other performances I’m eager to see include Action Hero‘s contemporary version of A Western, who are turning into a well known company on the contemporary theatre circuit. Originally from the depths of Bristol, I first heard of Action Hero last year during May Fest and since then the likes of Lyn Gardener regularly praises them. Including in the must see performances are Gob Squads show Live Long and Prosper, although a video instillation it will certainly prove to be just has fun, whacky and promising as their earlier work.

Sacred Festival isn’t just about performances though. There are a number of post show discussions with the various artists who are performing, which are completely free. Also there are several workshops that you can attend with some of the practitioners including ‘Writing for performance’ by Lone Twin, and ‘Art, Sex and Politics’ by Franco B.

For more information on the festival, see the Chelsea Theatre website… and if anything, get yourself down to see some of Europes best artists in a small but delightful theatre.

The Sacred Festival runs at the Chelsea Theatre from 21st October to 22nd November 2009


Cleaning Up Your Act – Recycling in Theatres

July 24, 2009
The flyers of A Dolls House in a skip

The flyers of A Dolls House in a skip

What with the current climate of affairs around the world, you would have thought that businesses and companies around the world were pulling their weight with their efforts to do their bit in saving the environment. Although it can be difficult to recycle everything that is passed through a business the developments that we have gone through recently at least the ability for paper and cardboard to be recycled can be achieved easily.

Yet somewhere along the way it would appear that the Donmar Warehouse have bypassed the logic of recycling and instead attempted to dispose of their brochure/flyer by a bit of dumping in a skip. This picture has just broken into the Twitter-sphere via @jamesarnott, and quite frankly I am appalled by such obvious dumping of something which could easily be recycled.

It makes me call for theatres to seriously consider their attempts at recycling. It is down to a sheer lack of effort and laziness for not doing their part in the efforts of disposing of waste effectively.

However, this isn’t just a nag about the need for recycling because there are currently many theatres whose recycling polices are truly remarkable, and even their efforts to make their theatres as Green as possible.

High praise can go to the Arcola Theatre where their project titled Arcola Energy established in 2007 aims to make the Arcola Theatre the ‘worlds first carbon neutral theatre’. But beyond this they aim to offer help to other organisations in turning their waste into greener more productive methods to empower their companies. Perhaps the Donmar Warehouse could take a lesson from the Arcola Theatre?

Also the Arcola Theatres offers Green Sundays, where like minded people can come and meet, discuss ideas and relax in their eco-cafe and roof garden.

It is hard for theatres to truly be environmentally friendly with the sheer nature of energy which is consumed during performances and shows. The lights alone seep up a hefty electricity bill, without having to deal with costs of running heating/air con in huge auditoriums. But the least us theatre people can do is the ensure that recycling is done to the best of its abilities.

Remember even by recycling a single piece of paper, you are saving our environment from damage.

The Arcola Energy can be found on their website here and equally their Green Sundays can be found here.


Black Boxes Offer Nothing… But Hope!

June 17, 2009
The Dreaded Black Box

The Dreaded Black Box

Yesterday came the Theatre Trust’s Annual Conference, this year entitled: Experiencing Theatres, held at the Unicorn Theatre. An event which I wish I could have attended. Judging from the list of discussions and some of the participants it would have proved to be thoroughly interesting. I’m slightly gutted that I missed out.

Lalayn Baluch from The Stage was quick to report on one of the topics raised from the conference on the matter of Black Boxed Theatre’s. She reported that:

Jason Barnes one of the Theatre Trust trustees commenting during the conference on the nature of the black boxes of theatre, stated:

“Black box, let’s ban those words from our vocabulary. Black box has absolutely nothing to give. You need something to vary from, which is why found spaces are so exciting and you can react to them.”

Some powerful words from Barnes and words which have left an imprint upon my mind. I completely understand that the nature of the black box can seem daunting to theatre makers and audiences alike. They aren’t grand, they are bland, black and boxed in with little excitement to be given. But this is only taking it for face value. A much deeper and richer appreciation can come from looking at the black box of theatres as a blank canvas, waiting for creativity and inspiration to burst from its every wall.

If anything black boxed theatre’s offer hope.

If theatre is about the transformation of a space into a theatrical moment, then I would proclaim that the black box manages to do this relentlessly. They don’t “offer nothing”, they offer everything.

Working in a small fringe venue as I do, the most rewarding moment for me comes with the changing of shows. Each new production brings a new life to the small 50 seat theatre. Designers completely transform the theatre every show. From a completely bare auditorium apart from carpet and chairs, to a full integrated saloon bar where the audience sit amongst the performance. Yet, it might be noted that this theatre is a black box. Behind the design of the show lay the bare bones of walls covered in black paint and a floor/ceiling to match.

The Young Vic Theatre currently has Kurst, by Sound and Fury performing in one of their studio spaces, where the company have managed to transform completely the space into which the action takes part in a submarine. The audience sit and perch around the space, being actively involved within the space and the dynamics of the piece. They are transported into the depths of a submarine with the crew on board… yet behind this remains the Young Vic’s studio space. You wouldn’t realise it, immersing yourself in the situation and action, but it’s all there.

Whilst I will agree that theatre constantly evolves and we are currently in the golden age of ‘Found Spaces’, only a few weeks ago critics were praising Punchdrunks, ‘Tunnel-228’ under Waterloo Station, an amazing ‘found space’. [For those of you who missed this, it’s returning in August] This doesn’t mean we must give up completely on our homely black boxed theatres, just because theatre is exploring routes outside of the normal theatrical conventions.

I deplore to Jason Barnes that the black box theatres offer far more than nothing, they offer the magic of theatre, the canvas for designers to completely transform the space, after all… isn’t theatre about magic and transformation?

Kurst is running at the Young Vic until the 27th June, booking via the box office, or online.

References:

The Stage Article
Kurst at the Young Vic
Theatre Trust Conference