Friday, 5 July 2013

#NTCFest - We Lost Elijah by Ryan Craig, Royal & Derngate Youth Theatre, Northampton

Photo by Simon Annand (c)2013

Written by Jake Ward

I found most surreal, riveting and uniquely diverse about National Theatre Connections is discovering the links that it makes between all aspects of the theatre industry. We were given an amazingly rare opportunity as young people to work alongside up and coming playwrights, with the support and platform from a prestigious theatre like the National placing us at the heart of the creation of contemporary theatre.  Connections is so forward-thinking as it is a collaboration of young people, arts venues and staff, playwrights, directors, designers and technical teams, combining a variety of skills and experience to allow us to creatively take part in an opportunity that brings new pieces of writing to life.

I believe that what makes NT Connections even more exciting is the idea that texts can be performed in different dialects and interpreted and explored in different ways across the whole of the UK. This means that the Festival and the plays written for it act as a universal connection between all young people, as they explore relevant issues and themes, irrespective of who we are or where we live. This highlights that theatre is so important for young people, enabling us to express ourselves and actively take part in what is going on around us.

When rehearsing the play, what was immediately evident was the importance of an ensemble, giving the whole process a professional and realistic feel. This ranged from exercises which brought us together as a company, observing, learning from one another and offering constructive criticism, and working with our director to interpret the script and characters, and offer our own ideas. Rehearsals where all about exploring, and both physically and emotionally creating depth to the characters, whilst always developing and testing out character relationships and different interpretations to keep the piece engaging, energetic and fresh each time we performed it. Due to the complexity and difficulty of the varying interpretations of the characters and dialogue, we were continuously pushing ourselves; getting up and trying new things in order to allow the performance to progress and grow.

What I found most rewarding and challenging was exploring the layers to the characters and the language in the play. The story, although only one hour long, sees characters all experience their own individual journeys. It was important that we allowed ourselves to go on this journey and find out about all the different layers to our characters.

Moving the play from the rehearsal room to the Royal stage, and then into The Shed, has encouraged us to think carefully about the movement in the space and our character relationships. When performing it in The Shed at the National Theatre I know it will be an exciting climax to the Festival – a showcase to the UK of what has been achieved when young people, playwrights, venues and their teams, all come together and make inspiring and amazing Connections. 

Jake Ward played Elijah in We Lost Elijah by Ryan Craig on Friday 5 July, The Shed, National Theatre 

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