NT Connections

I’ve been vaguely aware of the NT Connections programme, I’ve seen it promoted at the National Theatre, but this time I’m watching it at HOME.

Connections is the National Theatre’s annual festival of new plays for youth theatres and schools. It gives young people experience of professional theatre-making. Their experience mirrors that of a company producing a new play in any theatre in the country. They create marketing campaigns, design sets and costumes, operate lighting and sound boards, stage-manage their performances. 

First up at HOME is The Blue Coat School performing #YOLO by Matthew Bulgo.  This is a really impressive performance.  An excellent live band/singer provides the modern score whilst the cast create the world of seventeen year olds celebrating their A level results.  What happens when a close friend suffers an unexpected brain tumour?  Yes, the script is deeply flawed with stereotypes, with selfies and self-obsession, but the cast, especially the lead, produce moments of magic on stage.  Conflicting emotions are well portrayed.  Set pieces are well choreographed, and full of energy.

CYA @ HOME is a collaboration between HOME and Community Arts North West, who perform The Snow Dragons by Lizzie Nunnery.  Coincidentally I read this as part of the HOME play reading group (first Friday of every month) and wondered how it could be staged.  This is a very tricky play with many roles and difficult cues, and the young cast cope well, forming engaging characters.  A Norwegian village is invaded by German soldiers and the children hide in the hills, thinking of themselves as guerillas.  Well staged with a central tower and impressive lighting, the cast produce a compelling performance; can young people defeat the cynicism of war?

What must it feel like to perform on the HOME main stage at this age?  What an amazing opportunity, and hopefully one that shapes the career of future actors.  Amazing.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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