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