End of a Year
Posted on Mon 23 Jul 2012 by Ciaran McConville
This year’s International Youth Arts Festival has come to an end and it feels a bit like being at home the day after a massive house party. There were some great shows. A number of familiar Rose faces appeared in The Taming of the Shrew, and The Wordcatcher. National Youth Music Theatre brought a spectacular musical version of Shakespeare’s most popular seasonal comedy in The Dreaming, which was attended by the great and the good. And the acrobatics in the foyer that took place over the course of the festival were a hit with everyone.
Our own Rose Youth Theatre delivered three productions and seven performances, all of which seemed to go down well. There were some real highlights. Arthur Speak gave a debonair and bemused Joseph K in The Trial, which was also marked out by a fabulous performance from newcomer Ellen Evans, who had contrasting roles; a sadistic whipman and a prison chaplain. As the latter she gave me goosebumps.
Our other junior group did just as well with a charmingly ensemble adaptation of Cautionary Tales for Children, and seemed to enjoy the experience of being part of a double-bill with an adult company.
Our older youth theatre students tackled The Caucasian Chalk Circle, a challenging Brecht play, performed much in the self-consciously theatrical style developed by its author. They split roles, but never dropped the energy or narrative drive. I was really proud of all of them, and grateful to the above-and-beyond attitude of the directors, Madeleine Hutchins and Sian Thomas, the tireless and brilliant designer (and costume maker, costume supervisor, dresser, set builder and set painter) Klaire Jamin. Regular Rose volunteer Michael Isaacs kept smiling as we sent him off to buy and make props. And he was the calmest in the room when it came to the shows. We were blessed with lovely chaperones and generous volunteers, as ever. And our stage manager, Jo Spooner, kept her composure through the whole roller-coaster ride of organising three productions, seven performances and seventy-four students.
I hope our students enjoyed their experience in RYT this year. We’ve done a lot of performing and at times we have perhaps over-reached ourselves. But I’m glad we’ve given them tough material. Youth Theatre should stretch young people intellectually and emotionally.
In their feedback, I asked the students whether they think I should audition newcomers. The majority seemed to think that we should. I find myself in a conundrum. I’ve always resisted auditioning for Rose Youth Theatre because: I think the Rose should serve all young people in the area, regardless of acting ability; children are under enough pressure at school; and, how do you say no?
But we now have a waiting list of over one hundred young people. Our September intake won't audition, but the applications continue to come in, and I'm worried it'll get to the point that those on the waiting list will find themselves at pensionable age before we find them a place. So what you do think? Should we audition for entry to Rose Youth Theatre? Please post your thoughts.