Script This…

November 30, 2009

Talent can often be found in the strangest of people or places. If the current trend of TV reality shows such as Britain’s Got Talent and X-Factor are anything to go by, offering everyone and anyone the chance to showcase their talent, there are talented individuals waiting to hit the limelight. Oh and of course let’s not forget the multiple Andrew Llyod Webber exploits into finding the next Joseph, Maria and Nancy talent contests, so it’s about time that we saw a little of this talent searching in other aspects of theatre.

Enter stage left Script This… brought to you by the Broadway Theatre Barking team.

Even in the depths of Barking at the Broadway Theatre, a place I had never experienced but completely fell for its charm on Thursday night, is showing that talent is everywhere and needs to have a platform. Their ongoing programme of Script This… invites new and unpublished budding playwrights from any background to submit their scripts to the Broadway Theatre where they are all read, returned with feedback but the most important part, given the chance to appear in their monthly Script This… event.

Four scripts are selected by the Script This team to appear in a short 10 pages, script-in-hand performance, directed by The Broadway Theatres artistic director, Karena Johnson, and professional actors. They are all rehearsed, and presented in the same day, which makes the process even more exciting.

Then in front of a small audience the plays are presented. Yet what makes this event different is after every short extract the audience discuss their thoughts and feelings on the piece. Did they enjoy it? What worked, what was lost? The feedback is valuable as hidden amongst the audience are the playwrights themselves, but are only revealed at the end.  After the discussions the audience then vote by manner of a card system, green for you liked it and want more, yellow for it was good, and red for you never want to see it again. The cards are totted up and the extract that gets the highest mark moves onto the next round where they can produce another extract at the next event.

The reason that I’m very taken with Script This… comes from the experience which I had at the event. There is something edgy and fresh about the night, where I find myself sitting next to two complete strangers but bonding over our opinions on the scripts being presented.

It was clear that not everyone within the audience were from theatre backgrounds or in the industry themselves, but this made the whole experience even more exciting. By discussing the scripts openly amongst a collection of mixed individuals and groups was rewarding to say the least.

I’ve often found that criticism from those within the industry to at times be too bogged down with the ‘know-it-all’ approach to theatre, so why not have someone who is completely fresh and new to plays and writing discussing their honest, open views? Encouraging discussion about the plays means that the playwrights gain an insight into what a whole collection of people thought about their work. At times the views are conflicting but this makes for interesting debates around the work.

Whilst I will openly admit that I am far from a critic or expert of plays and playwriting – my views were justly heard and discussed by the audience. Script This… really works in two ways; by engaging the audience with new writing work never seen before, and equally of the writers gaining feedback and an opportunity to showcase their work.

The Broadway Theatre in Barking really has taken up a challenge to broaden their work, and one which I fully support. If talent is to be found anywhere, then why not in Barking? Script This… will be returning to The Broadway Theatre in January and is highly recommended for a creative and inspiring night out at the theatre (with a difference).

See The Broadway Theatre website for details on Script This… and future events.

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Opportunities For Young People In Theatre

September 3, 2009
TheBigBreak2

The Big Break

This week see’s the National Theatre in connection with Spine Breakers launching ‘The Big Break‘, a young scriptwriter competition. Aimed at 13 to 18 year olds the competition gives the chance of adapting Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now, through working with top directors, writers and actors at the National Theatre by seeing your words brought to life.

Whilst this is a great opportunity for young people to get their writing skills in action leading for a fantastic opportunity at the National Theatre, it does leave me pondering what other opportunities are out there for young people/teenagers in actively engaging within the arts (or mostly theatre).

Of course the National Theatre is constantly striving to work towards promoting themselves as an establishments that works closely with Young People, and nurturing the next generation of Theatre Makers. The New Connections programme at the National Theatre actively seeks new talent from groups of schools and youth groups, leading to presenting their work in the main spaces of the National Theatre and working closely with well known writers. Sadly however, New Connections will be closing their doors for a while as they re-establish themselves within the National Theatre… so how does this gap get filled?

Battersea Arts Centre

Battersea Arts Centre

The Battersea Arts Centre,  (BAC) springs to mind when thinking about the opportunities for young people. Their Young Peoples Theatre (YPT) gives 12 – 25 year olds the ‘chance to experiment, create and perform original theatre on a professional stage’. Often working with notable directors and practitioners, YPT are an energetic group of young people.

Although I’ve not been to one of their shows at the BAC I watched a paneled discussion on young people within theatre and the impact upon theatre work and audiences. The YPT members present certainly reminded myself of when I was of an age at a ‘young theatre group’, bursting with the desire to perform and be in theatre. I can certainly see stars in the making from YPT.

LyricYoungCompanyAnother well established theatre working with young people comes in the form of the Lyric Hammersmith. New International Company of Live Arts (NICOLA) the Lyric Young Company were outstanding in their delivery of talented young people. Everything from poetry, monologues and dance was thrown in. There seems to be a real flare within this programme with great results.

Whilst I have highlighted a few of the well known Young Peoples Theatre programmes around London there must be other opportunities for young people dotted all over the city with relation to theatre. There still needs to be more, as most of these groups are highly sought after and over subscribed with waiting lists.

I have spoken about in the past how the future of theatre relies upon the younger generations in bringing new creativity and energy into theatres. What I would love to see is a revolution where the younger generations have their time in taking over the theatres. Often us adults get caught up in being adults and lose all our sense of play and creativity. Why not take a moment to observe the younger generations and feed that energy into theatres, or better still allow that creativity to enter theatres directly through more Young Peoples Theatre organisations.

The time for theatre in the hands of the Younger Generations is upon us, but will you allow it?

If you are under the age of 25 and interested in finding out more about getting involved in theatre, then A Younger Theatre recommends Get Into Theatre.org for more information and opportunities.