National Theatre Connections

National Theatre Connections Festival at artsdepot

Published: Tue 7 Apr 2015

From Saturday 11 to Saturday 18 April, artsdepot will be presenting six new plays performed by 14 different schools and young theatre groups as part of Connections, the National Theatre’s annual festival.

Every year ten brand new plays are written exclusively for Connections by both established and talented young playwrights, giving 5000 young people aged 13 – 19 all over the country access to the best new writing for theatre. They also experience professional theatre-making: creating marketing campaigns, designing sets and costumes, operating lighting and sound boards, and stage-managing their performances. Each company has the chance to perform in a leading regional theatre, at one of 27 Connections festivals around the country. From Plymouth to Inverness and from Cardiff to Newcastle, Connections celebrates great new writing for the stage and the energy, commitment and talent of young theatre-makers.

The six plays to be performed at artsdepot are:

Drama, Baby by Jamie Brittain
performed by Chase High School & Shenfield High School
It's the final rehearsals before the practical A Level theatre studies exam, and Neil wants everything to be just perfect. Two competing groups of students attempt to achieve that ever-elusive 'A' grade, soon finding the competing forces of sex, alcohol and Artaud threatening to destroy their hopes of a good university place. As egos clash and new relationships are formed and broken, Drama, Baby goes to the heart of what it means to perform, and what it's like when the handbags and gladrags are stripped away.

Jamie Brittain was born in Edinburgh in 1985 and grew up mostly in the Lake District and Bristol. He created the teen drama series Skins, which he wrote for throughout its seven-year run, picking up a BAFTA along the way, and has since written for the Channel 4 show Dates. Drama, Baby is his first piece of theatre.

Hood by Katherine Chandler
performed by Clapton Girls’ Academy, Drayton Manor High School & artsdepot’s Young Company
Hood’s Mam has run off with a bacon licking vegetarian and her Dad spends his days and nights lost in a chair, feeding his addiction to ‘The Waterboys’. There’s no money left, there’s five struggling kids to feed and interfering Father Tuck just won’t let them be. But our modern day hero, Robyn Hood is determined to keep her family together, whatever it takes… A modern day tale about family and food.

Katherine Chandler is a Welsh playwright who has had plays produced by National Theatre Wales, Bristol Old Vic, Sherman Cymru, Theatr Nan’Og, Spectacle Theatre and Dirty Protest. Her play Before it Rains won the Writers’ Guild Playwright award at the Theatre Critics of Wales Awards. Her adaptation of Terry Jones’ fairy tales The Silly Kings was produced and performed by National Theatre Wales in Europe’s largest Spiegel tent, in the grounds of Cardiff Castle. Her new play Bird won the 2013 Bruntwood judges’ prize and is now in development with the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.

The Edelweiss Pirates by Ayub Khan-Din
Performed by Queens Theatre Hornchurch
Germany 1943. The Second World War rages into its fourth year. All internal opposition has been viciously silenced and the population follow blindly behind Adolf Hitler and his policies of total war and domination. Around Germany, small groups of youth form themselves into societies; some just to listen and dance to banned music and be with like-minded teenagers. Others are becoming more aware that it is they, the youth of the country, who have to start resisting the Nazis, in whatever way they can. One such group are The Edelweiss Pirates of Cologne: a group who have found the courage to say no, enough is enough. There are still people in Germany with a conscience and moral convictions to stand up to the regime even though they may have to pay a terrible price for their convictions.

Ayub Khan Din’s first stage play East is East (1997) was first staged at the Royal Court Theatre, has been produced many times since and was subsequently adapted by Ayub into a highly successful feature film. Other plays include All the Way Home, and Rafta Rafta, an adaptation of Bill Naughton's 1960s story All in Good Time, which was produced at the National Theatre, winning a Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, and then in New York.

Follow, Follow by Katie Douglas
Performed by Rising Stars Youth Theatre
After an Orange Order march through the town where they live, Al, Billy, Stacey, Kelly-Anne and Big Mikey head to the local park with a gaggle of younger kids, readying to drink, flirt and have a laugh. But when one of their group is robbed and the others assume they know who is to blame, a group becomes a gang. Events spiral out of control, ending in an act of violence which some of them can’t understand, none of them can handle, and all of them will remember for the rest of their lives.

Katie Douglas is a prize-winning scriptwriter whose work has spanned drama and comedy both here and in the States. She has worked on such shows as Secret Diary of a Call Girl, After You've Gone, MI High, Waterloo Road and EastEnders. As a playwright, she has worked with a number of theatres, including Liverpool Everyman, the RSC, Paines Plough, Soho and Southwark Playhouse, and her work has been shortlisted for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

The Accordion Shop by Cush Jumbo
Performed by Camberley Youth Theatre, Canons High School, The Petchey Academy & Stagecoach Southgate
Mister Ellody has quietly kept his accordion shop going on his local high street for generations. One day, he steps out of his door and witnesses an extraordinary incident: hundreds of young people are surging onto the street, and they've all received the same text message on their phones which simply says "RIOT. THE ROAD. 7pm TONIGHT."

Cush Jumbo is an award-winning actress and writer, who was nominated for an Olivier Award in 2014 for Outstanding Achievement in Affiliate Theatre for Josephine and I which she wrote and performed at the Bush Theatre. She won the Best Actress award at The Manchester Theatre Awards 2014 for her performance as Nora in A Doll's House at the Royal Exchange; previously she was nominated for an Olivier Award for her performance as Mark Antony in Julius Caesar at the Donmar Warehouse.

Remote by Stef Smith
Performed by Bodens Performing Arts, Uxbridge College Performing Arts & Chickenshed’s Youth Theatre
A girl called Antler steps out of her front door and throws her phone on the ground. She stamps on it. She then climbs the tallest tree in the park. She doesn’t want to be found, not by anyone. Seven teenagers’ lives all intertwine over the course of a single evening as they make their way through the park on a seemingly normal autumn night. Remote is a play about protest, power and protecting yourself.

Stef Smith is currently best known for supplying the text for RoadKill (Edinburgh Festival 2010, 2011) which won a Laurence Olivier Award in 2012. Other plays include: CURED (Glasgay!), Grey Matter (Aberdeen Performing Arts), Falling/Flying (The Tron, Glasgow), The Silence of Bees (The Arches) and a BBC Scotland radio drama entitled Tea and Symmetry.

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