Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Directing “Tomorrow I’ll Be Happy”
Sarah Osborne

First some context about the company I direct, Yew Tree Youth Theatre have been around for about 16 years now. We’re based in Wakefield and have over 200 members aged between 6 and 24 years old who meet in 10 different companies every week.  2013 will see our ninth Connections play staged and my ninth Connections play directed.  Despite being something of an old hand I am constantly surprised and delighted by the discoveries made on the journey.

We run Connections as an enhancement project.  It’s for members of the youth theatre who want to be involved in a more intensive rehearsal process and performance opportunity over and above their usual weekly session.  The company have a significant say in the play choice and then audition before casting, it’s the only Yew Tree Youth Theatre project we run where formal auditions take place.

Our connections play “Tomorrow I’ll Be Happy,” by Jonathan Harvey is a tough play. It’s tough to direct and tough for actors and it’ll be tough for the audience to watch.  However it is an important story that needs to be told and that makes it worth the effort.  Already the cast have had to challenge their own assumptions about society and put themselves in situations they would never imagined they would have to confront.  Equally however they have had the opportunity to come to terms with things in their own lives.  There is no denying that exploring and rehearsing a play like this teaches young people as much about the world they live in as the craft of making quality theatre. 

One of the challenges in directing Youth Theatre is that the director has to fulfill so many roles.  I have no costume department, no designer, no publicity department, no budget, no nothing. My only luxury is an inspiring co director who being a senior youth theatre member, in addition to his career as an actor, has a different insight into both the cast and the play.  Oh and I have a talented lighting practitioner who helps me negate the need for anything but the most minimal of set.

This minimalist approach however allows me to concentrate on what I believe to be the heart of the Connections experience, acting.  We are making the most of being able to explore both the craft and the application of acting in such depth with “Tomorrow I’ll Be Happy,” Asking questions of the text and the characters, exploring the world of the play.  We’re asking the cast aged between 13 and 18 to rid themselves of their own idiosyncrasies and coping strategies so they can get to grips with an entirely different person.  We talk a lot in rehearsal about humility and vulnerability as actors and equally about truth and integrity as performers.

In terms of progress we’re getting there – our first full run last week was interesting…it showed us how far we have come and how far we have to go.  There is a lot of work to do but already I see the way that the cast are developing as a result of being able to do something as valuable and challenging as Connections and that is still as rewarding the first time I witnessed it…

If you want to find out more about Yew Tree Youth Theatre please visit or or our blog where a guest youth theatre member and I blog each week

30th January 2013

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Rehearsing for Home Performances

Highly Sprung Performance Co.-

Jim Cartwright’s The Mobile Phone Show 

3x Blogs by Cast Members

Hannah Pryal, 16
Rehearsing for Jim Cartwright’s new play, Mobile Phone Show, has been an amazing experience so far, and continues to be so. The play itself is an eclectic mixture of force, heartfelt emotion and a touch of weirdness, which is brilliant fun to bring to the performance space. The fact that Highly Sprung is a physical theatre group means that we have taken a truly unique look at the script and really explored the various ways in which we can present what Jim Cartwright has written on paper, hopefully presenting something new and exciting for our audiences - it is definitely exciting for us!

Rehearsals have been fast paced and sometimes a little bizarre but a great opportunity for everyone to get involved and completely forget their inhibitions - there has been running, shouting, prancing and inevitably a lot of laughing but we are gradually working our way through the scenes, creating and developing some really innovative ideas.
So far I have absolutely loved exploring Cartwright’s new script and cannot wait to perform it with Highly Sprung!

Brian McAuley, 17 
I have immensely enjoyed applying Highly Sprung’s innovative and original style of performing to Jim Cartwright’s new piece. The friendly atmosphere, creative inputs and teamwork shown by everyone involved has made me feel comfortable and part of something unique and exciting. Warm ups and vocal exercises have been invaluable. The use of physical theatre has transformed the piece giving it a distinctive "Highly Sprung" feel. The Highly Sprung team have directed our rehearsals constructively but always allowing the performers to be creative. Being involved in a National Theatre project has been a wonderful opportunity and I hope this will bring further shows for Highly Sprung performers to be involved in. 


Nicola Woodward, 14
Highly Sprung Thursday workshops have been focusing on rehearsing and creating Mobile Phone Show by Jim Cartwright.  As Highly Sprung is a physical theatre group we have a different and unique approach to the show than most other groups, this means that our version will be significantly different to other theatre groups and performance companies and hopefully give the audience an experience they will never forget. I find being part of Highly Sprung is amazing especially when we are rehearsing a show such as Mobile Phone Show. I find the experience of working together in a fun environment and with people that you care about makes the experience of performing especially special and well supported throughout the whole process of rehearsals and the shows.  During rehearsal it can be hard work but it's worth it as it is great experience and allot of fun as the excitement builds towards the performances.

I believe Mobile Phone Show has great potential as a great show, I have never come across a show/ script quiet like this one however I am thoroughly enjoying every minute of the production process. It is different to most other shows as it has a strong storyline that is relatable to many even if they are un aware of it at this point in time with guidelines and restrictions everywhere in life. It can be a light hearted or hard hitting show depending on how much you read into its words and actions.  But whatever you take from it is going to be amazing and that is a promise. A great experience for performers and audience alike. 

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