Blackout & Little Foot Diaries: Youth Theatre insight

By Kate Ganderton, Senior Education Officer & Youth Theatre Leader

As some of you may know, this is an exciting time of year for our Youth Theatre. Hopefully everyone will have seen the gathering pace of publicity surrounding The Jungle Book (Years 1 to 9, ages 4 – 13) and will also be getting excited about the upcoming A Comedy of Errors by our Senior Youth Theatre (ages 16+).

This blog is to let you know about this weekend’s double bill of shows by our Intermediate Youth Theatre (ages 13 – 16). Year 10 have been working with me on ‘Little Foot’ by Craig Higginson and Year 11 have been working with Ellen Dorsett on ‘Blackout’ by Davey Anderson. Both have been taken from the National Theatre Connections series of powerful, contemporary plays, especially commissioned for Youth Theatres. They will be performing on Saturday 23 March and Sunday 24 March at 7pm.

‘Little Foot’ takes place on New Years Eve, about thirty miles outside Johannesburg when a group of school friends decide to spend the night in a network of underground caves. The area is known as the Cradle of Humankind. The oldest pre-human remains have been found there, including a four million year-old ape-man called Little Foot. As the friends go deeper underground, forces are unleashed between them and around them. Part reality, part nightmare, South African playwright Craig Higginson’s dark and poetic play takes us on an unforgettable journey into our unconscious ancestral memory.

‘Blackout’ is a fictionalised account of the real-life events that led to a teenager being charged with attempted murder. Anderson created this hard-hitting play (literally) from interviews with a 17 year old from Glasgow’s East End who had committed a violent crime. The play raises the questions; what leads young people to commit violent acts, how they should be punished (or rehabilitated) and, crucially, how these kinds of crimes can be prevented.
Little Foot Blackout poster
Both groups have worked extremely hard for the last two terms on these shows, which have the very specific brief of being Studio Theatre-based, ensemble performances with minimal lighting and set. They have had to adapt to many new styles of theatre, including physical theatre and chorus work. Some of the members have been with us for nearly ten years (which is no mean feat when you realize they are only 14 and 15!)

The shows are nearly sold out but a few tickets remain via our Box Office.

And if you want to get a bit of insight into the performance process then read these diaries from a couple of our Youth Theatre members…

LITTLE FOOT //
At the Hereford Youth Theatre, we explore and perform different theatrical pieces and often compose our own short sketches. We also develop our own themes and ideas within a subject and perform them for the rest of the group. I think that the youth theatre is a fun and an exciting place where young people can express themselves and their ideas within a friendly and familiar environment.

By Leah Cottrell

BLACKOUT //
The blogs above give a great summary of the fantastic experience the Courtyard gives you as well as a good synopsis of the production ‘Blackout’ and the themes/messages designed into it, so I’m going to focus on the last rehearsal session.
I play the character of James (along with four other people) and due to the performance being majorly a dark, question provoking narration, I have little lines, and so try to portray James’ emotional and mental transformation almost all through the movements I make. In the last rehearsal session we put music to many of the scenes, this helped me to further my characterisation of James and try to become a teenager of his circumstance. The music helped me to find the deep anger, and soul changing emotions; it also helped to evolve the abstractness of certain scenes-what scenes? Well you’ll have to come and watch won’t you!
I believe the play is really starting to reveal its potential as it is taking shape more and more. Despite the ‘food for thought’ themes and messages contained in the play, as well as having to act out the frightening deterioration of James each rehearsal, we always have time for fun and a laugh; the people I’m with are really fantastic actors as well as people and it makes the Courtyard Youth Intermediate Theatre such a great place to be!

Joshua Smith

BLACKOUT //
Just under 2 weeks left now and it’s coming together. People are getting their lines and cues learnt and it’s looking really good! Last rehearsal music was added over a couple of the scenes for effect and it really works, it makes the actions of the characters seem much more dramatic and emphasized. The struggle of the main character and the people around him is working nicely. The performance is shaping up to be very exciting and I can’t wait for the day to come!

George Weston

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