There was a coup at Alnwick Playhouse yesterday as youngsters overthrew management to take charge of proceedings.
The day began with the unveiling of the theatre’s wondrous Storytelling Chair designed by children from the mini Youth Theatre group (aged seven to 10), with the help of North East-based visual artist Alison Ashton.
Once Upon A Woodland, a new story-telling session, was then held in response to a consultation with Northumberland-based families in early 2014.
The content of the event was directly inspired by the children’s ideas from walks in their local area with their families.
The audience was treated to tales from local storytellers and a reading and demonstration from author Gary Northfield. They were also able to buy signed copies of Gary’s new book, Julius Zebra. The chair has now been moved to its permanent home in the bar area.
In the evening, the Playhouse Youth Theatre’s senior group put on a performance as part of the National Theatre’s Connections project. They staged The Boy Preference, by Elinor Cook, set in the near future in a society that values boys over girls.
In an affluent suburb, the birth of a boy is welcomed with shouts of joy and firecrackers, but when a girl is born, the neighbours say nothing. This play looks at what happens one night when a boy called Joey looks out of his window and sees all of the ‘missing’ girls have come back to exact revenge and even out the numbers. It was beautifully played and received rapturous applause by a gripped audience.
There were some strong performances, particularly by the convincing Charley Anstee in the lead role of Lila, to tell a haunting and at times disturbing story. The simple, but effective, staging and lighting set your nerves a-tingling.
The National Theatre has commissioned and published more than 140 plays for its Connections project, which offers young people aged 13 to 19 across the country access to the very best new writing for theatre.
Young Alnwick Playhouse will repeat their performance at Northern Stage in Newcastle on May 2, with the possibility of being selected to perform at the National Theatre, London.
In the second half of the evening, Disco Inferno: Rekindled, a 23-minute documentary about the making of the recent Duchess’s Community High School musical, was screened. It was filmed and edited by made by students, working with professional local filmmaker Alan Fentiman. It was shot during rehearsals and performances of Disco Inferno, which sold out all five performances.
During the interval and after the show, members of the cast gave unrehearsed and improvised renditions of the big hits from the show, including I Will Survive, Enough Is Enough, Ballroom Blitz and Kissing in the Back Row of the Movies, accompanied by the brilliant Anthony Newman and Dan Lyst, both on guitar. It showed what amazing talent there is at Alnwick’s high school.
The whole evening left me, as a member of the community, bristling with pride. Well done everyone.
THE BOY PREFERENCE CAST LIST
GIRLS: Lila – Charley Anstee; Verity – Zara Sumner; June – Katie Mewett; Adelaide – Meg Fletcher; Alice – Lucy Draper; Abbie – Megan Brown; Anna – Eleanor Morris; Wife – Becca Dixon; Journalist – Zoe Gilroy; Angela – Megan Hallows; Amanda – Stella Deckers-Coulter; Astrid – Becca Dixon; Amy – Zoe Gilroy.
BOYS: Joey – Isaac Mills; Otto – Dylan Potter; Beetle – Liam Moore; Riley – Isaac Ellis; Mo – Andrew Wilson; Husband/Man – Alex Clark-Thompson; Farmer – Matthew Hardy; Psychologist – Harry Clark-Thompson.
WATCH THE HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS PERFORM AN IMPROVISED VERSION OF KISSING IN THE BACK ROW OF THE MOVIES