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This Week: NT Connections Festival at artsdepot

Published: Mon 28 Apr 2014

This week, nine young theatre groups perform at artsdepot as part of the National Theatre’s Connections Festival.

Every year, ten brand new plays are written exclusively for Connections by some of the most influential British Playwrights, giving young people aged 13 – 19 all over the country access to the best new writing for theatre. From Plymouth to Inverness and from Belfast to Norwich, Connections celebrates great new writing for the stage, and the energy, commitment and talent of young theatre-makers.

The plays confirmed at artsdepot are:

The Wardrobe by Sam Holcroft
Across five centuries of British history, small groups of children seek sanctuary in the same solid, old wardrobe. It's the safest place they know – but is it safe enough?
Performed by The Playing Space (Fri 2 May)

Heritage by Dafydd James
It's Mayday, and a group of misfit children are specially chosen to close the day's festivities; but as they gather together in uniform to rehearse the village anthem, all is not well. Tubbsy's hiding a cat in his bag; Deirdre-May's grieving her Nanna and Mark's turned up as Stegosaurus. As the rehearsal breaks down, they soon begin to suspect that they've been chosen for a far darker purpose... Heritage is a blistering black comedy with music that explores the darker side of nationalism. 
Performed by Eastside Young Leaders’ Academy (Tue 29 Apr), and Bodens Youth Theatre (Thu 1 May)

A Letter to Lacey by Catherine Johnson
Kara sits down to write an email to someone she’s never met: her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend. Reece was the love of her life and as Kara spills her heart out, we learn just what it took to be with him – from their first meeting in the local park to their final showdown in a hospital. This play explores partner abuse and how it affects not just the couple involved, but their friends and family as well.
Performed by The Petchey Academy (Thu 1 May)

A Shop Selling Speech by Sabrina Mahfouz
There's an armed robbery in a newly opened shop in Cairo, Egypt. What is being stolen? Speech. Can the robbers succeed? Can the staff stop them? Should they be stopped? Questions of freedom, power, gender, greed and revolution are examined in this heightened drama.
Performed by Morpeth School (Mon 28 Apr)

Angels by Pauline McLynn
A group of young strangers gather in an old graveyard for a community project, watched over by three angels. Over the course of a day and night they talk, sing and bicker as they learn more about themselves and the lives they are living. 
Performed by RAW Academy (Tue 29 Apr)

Pronoun by Evan Placey
Josh and Isabella are childhood sweethearts. They were meant to spend their gap year together, they were meant to be together forever. But Isabella has now become a boy. A love story about transition, testosterone, and James Dean. 
Performed by artsdepot Young Company (Mon 28 Apr), RAaw YPTC (Wed 30 Apr) and Oasis Academy Hadley Senior Drama Company (Fri 2 May)

Ten companies chosen from around the country will also perform at the National Theatre from Wednesday 2 – Monday 7 July 2014.

Here's what some of the playwrights said about writing for the NT Connections festival:

"Connections is such a gift and challenge for a writer: I've been able to write for a larger cast than usual, but also had to consider how a local concern about Welsh language culture could potentially resonate with groups throughout the UK. I love writing for / with young people: they challenge my world-view and encourage me to consider things from alternative perspectives. They surprise, invigorate, delight and humble me; and to have so many productions of Heritage happening simultaneously is mind-blowing."
Dafydd James (writer of Heritage)

"Writing for Connections has been a joy, for so many reasons. The extraordinary enthusiasm of everyone involved, from the National Theatre staff to the directors, to the hundreds of young performers taking part, was just so inspiring. Dreaming up multiple roles and scenarios exclusively for young people was a unique and exciting challenge in itself. And the programme as a whole is awe-inspiring: every year it generates brand new, inventive plays for young people; every year the process of making each of these new plays helps to inspire a new generation of theatre-makers across the length and breadth of the UK. It was simply a privilege to take part."
Sam Holcroft (writer of The Wardrobe)

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