HFC Youth Theatre

Youth Theatre – Back in the Room

Our Spring Youth Theatre Programme Is Back

After a tricky year of having to move a majority of our youth theatre and dance classes online, we were delighted to be able to recently launch our Spring Programme in person once again.

Two weeks into term and our groups are working on a Medieval Miracle & Mystery Plays project, inspired by four medieval Cornish play manuscripts, thought to be over 600 years old and which were historically performed to spread Christian ideas and stories of the Bible. The four plays The Cornish Ordinalia, Gwrians an Bys, Bewnans Ke and Bewnans Meriasek, are all written in medieval Cornish, and are hundreds of years old. They are currently held in libraries in Oxford and Wales, but this June will return to Cornwall for the first time in centuries for a very special temporary exhibition at Kresen Kernow, Cornwall’s archive centre.

Each of our Youth Theatre groups are working on their own performance piece, with scripts written by Youth Theatre’s Artistic Director Simon Harvey. This term, they will be working with a new team of Directors & Assistant Directors selected after a recent open call, and the performance pieces will be performed on site at Kresen Kernow as part of the celebrations surrounding the manuscripts return. Staged out in the open, and within the traditional format of the Plen an Gwari (medieval amphitheatres found in Cornwall) where actors perform in the round, our young actors have already started working on the skills needed for outdoor performance, including voice projection and emphasising the physicality of their movements to tell a story outside.

Our new Director & Assistant Director teams are: Susan Lay & James D’Arcy (Juniors); Kim Healey & Lewis May (Juniors); Tori Cannell & Hollie Lovelock (Intermediates); Michael Fenner & Shelley Deans (Intermediates); Roisin McCay-Hines & Craig Barr-Green (Seniors); Sam Colborne & Millie Jones (Seniors).

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Hall For Cornwall Youth Theatre present Hells Mouth by Nick Darke

Hall For Cornwall Youth Theatre present Hells Mouth by Nick Darke

Part of Nick Darke 70

A celebration of the life, work and legacy of Nick Darke throughout 2018 & 2019

Nick Darke (1948-2005)

Young people and professional artists are presenting the work of Nick Darke throughout 2018 & 2019 in a celebration of the work of this unique playwright and film maker in his 70th Birthday year.

Jane Darke told us ‘Nick would have been 70 in August of this year, he died in 2005. It’s wonderful to be able to share this birthday with so many talented people, some who knew him personally but many who have come to know him through performance of his work. It’s really good to be able to make this a year of celebration for him and his friends, old and new. So thank you in advance to everyone sharing Nick’s 70th year!’

Hall For Cornwall Senior Youth Theatre will be presenting Darke’s Hells Mouth on the main stage during the venue’s last week before it closes for redevelopment. Over the last 20 years 100,000 young people have been given performance opportunities at Hall For Cornwall.

As part of Nick Darke 70 Hells Mouth is the second of two Youth productions of Darke’s work this year after Cornwall Youth Theatre toured The Riot across the county.

When a deadly game of chicken on the Tamar Bridge ends in tragedy, civil unrest threatens to break out in war torn Cornwall. In a cynical to bid to placate the press and suppress the ‘revolting’ locals, a clay worker and part-time rock star from St Stephen, is elevated to the lofty position of Duke. The only person standing in the way of Kernow’s subjugation is feisty local girl, Gonietta.

Post apocalyptic, passionate and poignant, Hells Mouth is Nick Darke’s hilarious retelling of Sophocles Ancient Greek tragedy, Antigone. The play will be directed by Simon Harvey and Sam Colborne, with musical direction from Richard Healey and choreography by Helen Tiplady.

The cast have been enjoying the exploration of Darke’s writing, Chloe Endean who plays the part of Gonietta in the play said: ‘Hells Mouth is such a beautiful text and I feel very grateful to be bringing Nick Darke’s art to life as part of the HFC team. Working under the direction and guidance of the creative team is a joy, their inventive visions inspire everyone and we are all incredibly proud of the material we’re creating.’

Hells Mouth was originally written by Nick Darke and performed by a company of young people brought together from all over Cornwall under a Royal Shakespeare Company Education project exploring the story of Antigone. Darke was present throughout the improvisation process, over several residential weekends and rehearsal days, asking students key questions about loyalty, courage, patriotism, survival, stubbornness, pride, status and who or what they would die for. Drafts of the play were read and re-worked until the final play was produced in October 1992. Under the direction of Mike Shepherd the actors portrayal of the characters were playful, poignant, inventive and relevant.

The culmination of the project was at Stratford upon Avon at The Other Place, where the 6 regional projects joined together and shared the performance work. Not all the projects had worked as successfully as Cornwall, but nevertheless, it was incredible to see an Antigone based in medieval Scotland, an inner city court room in London, a tenement block in Solihull to contrast with alongside our play set in Kernow’s land of silent rock.

Nick working with the original Hells Mouth cast at the RSC

Hells Mouth helped to begin the careers of Carl Grose, now a successful playwright and Jenny Beare, a well known Cornish actress amongst many others.

As one of the earliest reviews of Darke’s work, in The Financial Times stated: “Darke gives shape to a Cornish idenitity that feels vital and real and has nothing to do with clay pipes and clotted cream”.

Come and support HFC Youth Theatre’s production of Hells Mouth on May 31st. It is full of potential stars of the future who sparkle in this unique, contemporary and passionate version of the play.

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Developing the next generation of Broadway and West End stars

Studio A on the ground floor of Falmouth University’s AMATA building may seem a long way from the bright lights of Broadway and London’s West End theatres. But, judging by the talent and enthusiasm of the young people taking part in Hall For Cornwall’s summer masterclasses, many of the young performers are planning to share the spotlight with today’s musical theatre stars in the future.

HFC is introducing new weekly Musical Monday musical theatre classes for young people aged between 7 and 21 from September. Ahead of this the Get Creative team offered young people the chance to take part in two special summer master classes.

Led by the creative team behind the Hall For Cornwall’s hugely successful homegrown trilogy of Christmas Shows: Simon Harvey, Richard Healey and Kim Moses, the masterclasses saw around 50 young people learn dialogue, songs and choreography direct from the West End and Broadway during the week long programme.

The first part of the week belonged to the juniors. Young performers between the ages of 7 and 13 spent two days practicing the Dentist from The Little Shop of Horrors and Revolting Children from Matilda, as well as learning the steps to one of the classic dances from the musical Hairspray and a song from the contemporary musical Dear Evan Hansen before taking part in a special sharing in front of their family and friends.

Among those taking part was 11 year old Gabriel who said it had been great fun.  “I enjoy acting and singing and so really wanted to join the masterclasses “he said.  12 year old Nell had originally been “encouraged” to join the class by her Mum but said she had had an amazing time and was so glad she had come along.

“ I like acting most of all but I have really enjoyed the singing and dancing too “ she said.  “Everyone has been very friendly and it was great to be able to show what we have learnt to our families “.

It was then the turn of the seniors to take to the stage, with the young people spending their three days learning songs, dances and dramatic scenes from the current west End hit Everyone’s Talking About Jamie; Honk the Musical, as well as Footloose; The Little Shop of Horrors and Sweet Charity.  The group also had the chance to share their newly acquired skills with family and friends at the end of their workshop sessions.

17 year old Marshall is currently studying drama at Truro College and is a huge fan of musical theatre.  “Some people may look down on musical theatre but it is actually more challenging than many other forms of theatre as you have to be able to act, sing and dance” he said. “I had an amazing time this week.

15 year old Jake is a member of HFC’s Youth Theatre group and has enjoyed the opportunity to rekindle his enthusiasm for dancing.  “I used to dance when I was younger but dropped it when my family moved “ he said.  “I want to be an actor but it is important to be able to sing and dance as well if you want a career in the theatre. “

13 year old Luka has always wanted to be an actor and joined the masterclass so he could gain as much all round experience as possible.  “If you want to perform in productions on Broadway and the West End you have to be able to sing and dance a well as act “ he said. “This week has been a great introduction to musical theatre and I have loved every minute.“

Musical theatre performer and choreographer Kim Moses, who has worked with professional companies both in the UK and around the world, is delighted with the success of the summer masterclasses.

“It has been fantastic to help young people in Cornwall explore the magic of musicals and develop the skills they need to perform on a West End stage “ she said. “I grew up watching MGM musicals and am really lucky to have had the chance to work with a number of top companies.

“HFC already has thriving youth dance and youth theatre groups and we are looking forward to adding musical theatre classes to our programme from September.  The young people taking part this week have really thrown themselves into the classes and it has been great to watch them develop their skills and confidence.

“We can’t wait to share our passion for musical theatre with a new generation of young people so please come and join us “.

The new weekly musical theatre classes will take place at AMATA on Monday evenings, starting on Monday 16th September. There will be two classes – one for juniors aged from 7 to 12 years beginning at 5.30pm and one for seniors aged 13 to 21 years  beginning at 7pm.  The fee is £100 per term.

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June Update

Over the past few weeks we have been talking to members of the public about our transformation, and working with schools and community groups on a range of amazing dance and drama projects.

It was great to have the chance to talk to so many people about the progress of our project at the Royal Cornwall Show. There was so much passion and enthusiasm for Hall for Cornwall, with many people saying they were really missing us and can’t wait for the re-opening of our theatre next year. We share this enthusiasm and are looking forward to announcing details of the new programme.

Over the last ten years we have welcomed over 2 million people to the Hall including 100,000 young people and school groups. We also run a number of youth companies for young actors and dancers and are very proud of all the young people who form part of these groups.

This year some of our young performers have secured places at leading national drama and dance schools. There is intense competition for these places and we are delighted to have played a part in helping them on the journey to fulfilling their dreams.
Earlier this month 40 members of our youth theatre group performed at Trebah Gardens as part of Operation Neptune, a drama project organised as part of the events to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D Day. We have also been working with the Royal Shakespeare Company and 99 pupils from Treviglas, Bodmin College, Brannel, and Humphry Davy secondary schools and Cubert, Delabole, and Tintagel primary schools as part of our RSC Associate Schools partnership. Each school performed a 10 minute piece from a Shakespeare play of their choosing based around the theme of “Heroes and Villains” at AMATA in Falmouth.

Last weekend Ned Ratcliffe, who won a place at the National Youth Dance Company in the Summer, performed with the company in Plymouth, and members of our Junior Dance company took to the stage at Sterts as part of the Midsummer Dance Festival.
If all this was not enough our Senior Youth Theatre group were chosen to perform at the National Theatre at the end of June as part of this year’s NT’s Connections festival. With just 10 youth theatre companies chosen to perform from the 273 groups and 6,500 talented young people from across the UK, this is an amazing achievement for our 25 young people who closed the nationwide festival on Saturday, 29 June with their performance of The Sad Club.

Future projects planned for July include “taking over” Illogan School as part of a week long drama project; working with Nancledra School on a dance piece to be  performed at Geevor, and developing plans for a story telling event with KEAP and The Story Republic which will involve four schools and two community groups working together to create newspapers and stories.

Julien Boast : HFC Chief Executive and Creative Director

HFC Youth Theatre

Young actors from Hall For Cornwall to perform at National Theatre.

A group of talented young actors from HFC Youth Theatre will be performing at the National Theatre at the end of June as part of this year’s NT’s Connections festival. With just 10 youth theatre companies chosen to perform from the 273 groups and 6,500 talented young people from across the UK, this is an amazing achievement for the 25 members of HFC’s Senior group who will be closing the nationwide festival on Saturday, 29 June.

Originally launched in 1995, the National Theatre Connections Festival provides youth theatre companies and schools with a unique opportunity to stage new plays written for young people by some of theatre’s most exciting playwrights, and to perform in leading theatres across the UK. Aimed at young people between the ages of 13 and 19, the festival gives the young theatre-makers full control of a theatrical production – from costume and set design to stage management and marketing campaigns.

Following a series of regional theatre performances which took place earlier this month, ten youth theatre groups have now been chosen to perform their allocated plays at the NT’s Dorfman Theatre during the last week of June to represent the range of exciting work being produced across the UK.

This is the second time in four years that a group from HFC Youth Theatre, the Hall for Cornwall’s flagship programme for developing young performers, has been chosen to perform at the Connections Festival and HFC’s Head of Arts Development Helen Tiplady is thrilled with their success.

“ We simply cannot wait to perform at the National Theatre on 29 June! “ she said. “HFC Youth Theatre are bursting with pride that we get to come up to London from Cornwall and let everyone know that we’re all part of this year’s Connections Festival.

“The Festival celebrates the talent and passion of young theatre-makers and I am very proud that a second group of our young actors has been given the chance to perform on a national stage. We are proud of our inclusive ethos – we don’t audition the young people and work hard to draw the very best out of each and every performer who wants to be part of HFC Youth.

“For our young actors to be chosen from thousands of others from across the country to perform a piece at the National Theatre for the second time is fantastic for everyone involved in HFC and for Cornwall”.

This year the National Theatre commissioned plays from 10 established playwrights Luke Barnes, Rob Drummond, Katie Hims, Dawn King, Benjamin Kuffour, Ndell Leyshon, Lajaune Lincoln & Ben Bailey Smith, Laura Lomas, Katherine Soper and Tom Wells to be performed by the youth theatre groups and schools taking part in the Festival. While organisers allocate plays to the different groups to perform, companies can express an interest in performing a specific play if they wish.

Helen and fellow HFC Youth Theatre director Simon Harvey invited members of the Seniors group to choose the play they wanted to perform for the festival. After considering all 10 plays, the group unanimously opted for The Sad Club, written by Luke Barnes with music by Adam Pleeth. Described as a musical about depression and anxiety, the piece uses monologues, songs and duologues from all over time and space to explore what about living in this world stops us from being happy and how we might go about tackling those problem.

“We were really pleased to have been given this piece” said Helen Tiplady.  “The group felt very strongly that this was the play they wanted to perform. It feels a really important piece and message to be sharing, so we are delighted to be representing the work.”

The group began working on The Sad Club in their weekly HFC Youth Theatre workshop sessions before Christmas. After performing the piece in front of appreciative audiences at the Acorn Theatre, AMATA and Truro College at Easter, they travelled to the Theatre Royal in Plymouth on 11 May along with the other South West groups taking part in the Connections Festival.

As a result of their performance on the Theatre Royal stage, the group’s next performance of The Sad Club will be at the Dorfman Theatre where they have been given the honour of closing the festival.

One of the young actors who will be taking part on 29 June is HFC Youth Theatre member Chloe Endean who said “Performing at the National is just like a dream come true! The whole Connections experience has just been amazing for us and I feel really lucky that we get to do the show one more time. I’m not ready for it to be over.”

Tickets for the performance of The Sad Club are available from The National Theatre website.

HFC Youth Theatre has four Youth Theatre companies starting from age six and is currently working with over 120 young people each week. Led by Simon Harvey and Helen Tiplady who direct and choreograph the work, they focus on ensemble skills, including devising, scripted work, physicality and performance.

Places are available in the youth companies for new members, so do get in touch if you would like to know more [email protected],uk

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Supporting Artists and the Arts

Supporting Artists and the Arts

by Julien Boast, HFC CEO & Creative Director

Although the theatre is now closed to the public for our exciting and ambitious redevelopment project, our Arts Development team are still very much open for business, continuing to support professional artists and working with schools and young people to bring arts to local communities across Cornwall. Thanks to support from the Arts Council, Cornwall Council and the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, our Arts Development work spans the entire county with opportunities created for individuals to perform and create in diverse theatre spaces including care homes, schools and colleges, village halls, museums, galleries and gardens.

The last few weeks have been incredibly busy. The team have attended the Royal Shakespeare Company Play Making Festival with students from Treviglas, Brannel, Redruth, Humphry Davy, Liskeard & Callington schools performing on the RSC’s main stage; delivered workshops for youngsters from Pondhu and St Breward primary schools and held “end of term” pop up and performance events for our Youth Dance and Theatre Companies at The Burrell Theatre and Perranporth Beach.

As we reflect back on the last 6 months, highlights have included work on 26 Creation Space projects, week long residencies in 17 local venues allowing professional artists to develop and test new work and the staging of Nick Darke’s ‘Hell’s Mouth’ by members of the HFC Youth Theatre, which was critically acclaimed as ‘THE BEST YOUTH THEATRE SHOW EVER SEEN’. Many of the young people taking part in this production have been members of our Youth Theatre for many years, using the opportunity and experience gained with us as a spring board for working with other professional companies or indeed pursuing a career in the arts. This year’s graduation cohort has seen 8 young people go on to either drama or dance schools or studying performance at a higher level.

Talent Development of professional artists is a key focus for us with the team offering mentoring support and encouraging artists to reflect on the work they have done in the past and talk about what they would like to accomplish going forward. Over the last six months, we have supported 160 artists through one to one sessions including our Associate Artists, such as Jethro Compton who is currently The Little Princess in Vienna and Emily Dobson who recently worked as choreographer on WildWorks’ 100: UnEarth at The Lost Gardens of Heligan.

Whilst we continue to prepare our building to hand over to the building team, the Arts Development team will be working tirelessly across the community to ensure that the power of performance can continue to inspire, educate and be enjoyed. Coming to an unusual performance space near you soon……