Tamar Keane, Clare Youth Theatre, has kindly agreed to share her experience of directing a reading of a New Stage play and attending the launch in the Peacock Theatre.
November 20th dawned a little earlier than I would have liked for a Saturday. But none the less, I got up and got ready for what was most definitely going to be an interesting day. November 20th was the date of the launch of NAYD’s New Stage project for 2011 in the Peacock in Dublin and this year, the Clare Youth Theatre was invited to join and perform
My first thoughts about the play we performed were the same as any other. It wasn’t until the task of casting and directing fell into my hands that it became different for me. The play we were asked to do was Trust Games by Pete Mullineaux and Moya Roddy. The story seemed simple enough: eight delinquent teenagers go away to the country for a weekend with some teachers, for some kind of ‘Teens in the Wild’ type bonding session. It wasn’t until reading the play in full that I found it was something fantastically unique. Each word written seemed to correspond with the images running each scene through my mind like a film. There weren’t many stage directions but they weren’t needed. Possibilities for lighting, and sets seemed endless. It was a play anyone would be excited to do.
When I had cast the parts we only had about two Saturdays to practice. Despite the lack of time we wrapped everything up nicely and on time. Everyone (as I suspected) loved the concept of the play, and their characters seemed to fit them so perfectly. After a few read throughs and notes on the bus up to Dublin, we were as prepared as we could be. We were last to perform that day.
There were seven plays performed on the day. As each group went up before us, I started to become more and more nervous. Each play was fantastic, and the talent packed into the little theatre seemed to radiate. Two plays during the day stood out to me particularly. The Limerick Youth Theatre performed the opening two scenes of a devised piece of their own, called The Voyage of the Orphans. C.Y.T. had gone to see the original production in the Belltable in Limerick last year, and again, even though I was only reliving the beginning scenes I was entranced. The play tells the story of a group of young girls struggling in the workhouse during the famine. All the characters were based on real people, the history element was incredibly accurate and the fiction was catchy, and realistic. It was a joy to watch something based on events so long ago, and still be able to relate to the girlish banter and friendships between the characters.
The second play that I found interesting was Trapped by Fear by Aisling O’Leary. It was performed by three members of Roundabout Theatre, and another member reading the stage directions. We saw two boys and a girl who were trapped in a small, dark place after running from something or someone. What interested me the most about the piece was that you didn’t know why the characters were there, or what had happened to them. You saw the fear and panic building in different ways through each character and you felt yourself feeling the same fear and tension for what might happen to them.
When it came to our turn to perform I couldn’t have been prouder. Each one of us gave it their all. After each performance everyone discussed their thoughts about the play and nothing but positives could be said for Trust Games. My aim was to keep it simple, but to put a polished ‘C.Y.T.’ twist to it which I was relieved to feel I achieved. The day on a whole was an experience to take with me. Everyone from NAYD, the other youth theatres, and all the writers were enthusiastic and excited to see the piles of talent that entered the Peacock that day. I couldn’t help feeling a mixture of jealousy and awe at what our generation has to offer. The New Stage project is one that gives youth theatres a chance to see what is out there for other teenagers from all over the country and how much this country has to offer in play writing and acting. I can’t wait to see what’s on next year.
Tamar Keane, 16, Clare Youth Theatre.