Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Connecting Dramaturgy II: Linda Grant and Kirsty Rennie



Connections is the National Theatre’s annual festival of new plays for youth theatres and schools. The 2014 Connections cycle involved:

10 Writers
230 Youth Theatre Companies
5,000 Young People
684 Performances
26 Partner Theatres
25,000 Audience Members
 Dramaturgy database, Lyceum, the national theatre, Connections 2016, 

Connections gives young people experience of professional theatre-making. Their experience mirrors that of a company producing a new play in any theatre in the country. They create marketing campaigns, design sets and costumes, operate lighting and sound boards, stage-manage their performances. In 2013, each company had the experience of performing in a leading regional theatre, at one of the Connections festivals around the country.



KIRSTY RENNIE, LYT INTERN, LYCEUM YOUTH THETARE, PERFORMING CELEBRATING CONNECTIONS (DEVISED) – LYT DISCOVER, VENCHIE GROUP

What was the inspiration for this performance?
The inspiration for my performance came from the theme of Celebration. All of the Discover tutors were set this theme from our Producer but then it was up to us how we wanted to use this stimulus to shape our performance. I decided that for Venchie’s performance we would hold a birthday party, with a twist. The group are really funny and I knew they would want to do something light hearted to show off their comical natures.

How did you go about gathering the team for it?
I have a cast of 10, and they are regular attendees at the Venchie drama club. However, originally we started off with 8 female members, but managed to recruit 2 male members who were interested in drama and went to the same school as some of the other members.

How did you become interested in making performance?
I have always had a passion for theatre and recently graduated from Queen Margaret University with my degree in Drama and Performance. When I was younger I was involved in school productions and was a member of a local youth theatre for 3 years. As I grew older I began to prefer the facilitation side of theatre, especially when working with young people. Therefore at university I pursued this further and did as much community related work with young people as I could.

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
It was typical in the sense that I always do a big brain storming session with the young people to generate ideas and then we narrow it down to our favourite idea, which happened to be the birthday party. I then created the basic outline of the show from some of their improvisation work, but gave them control over the character traits – we have decided to base our characters on different personalities which I thought was a brilliant idea from the young people.
I play around with some of their ideas for a few sessions, and then begin to structure the performance more and rehearse.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
I hope the audience will have a good time with the performance and enjoy the party. I want them to laugh with us and hopefully relate to some of the characters, because some of the scenarios have definitely happened to people before!

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
The main strategy I considered was that I wanted to keep the scenarios as realistic as possible so that the audience could relate to some of the characters.

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
I don’t see this particular performance working within any particular tradition, but normally I do follow the Brechtian tradition of breaking the fourth wall to engage the audience in my performances.


LINDA GRANT, DIRECTOR, INDELIBILE ARTS YOUTH THEATRE, PERFORMING THE MUSICIANS BY PATRICK MARBER


 What was the inspiration for this performance?
Written by Patrick Marber for Connections - The play is about a High School Orchestra who travel to Russia to play a concert as part of a festival. Unfortunately due to an “incident” their instruments are impounded by customs and they must decide what to do next. Luckily with the help from a Russian cleaner, with a penchant for rock music, all is not lost… Patrick Marber at the Directors workshop in London said he wanted to write a fun play that could work in any area of Britain, could be performed by a large ensemble and celebrated music and life.


How did you go about gathering the team for it?
We started our Youth Theatre in East Lothian 3 years ago, so that our Primary School students could continue drama classes throughout their teens. From eight students we grew to three groups with over 60 members. This is the second year our senior groups have been involved in Connections. The rest of the year we are involved in devised and site pieces so it’s interesting for us to use a script and perform in a more formal setting once a year.

How did you become interested in making performance?
I was always interested in drama and was myself a member of a Youth Theatre when i was growing up. After studying history at Glasgow I travelled extensively and spent 2 years in Japan teaching English at a Japanese High School where I used drama techniques to bring my English classes to life. On my return I spent five years trying out different career paths and hold down a “proper job” only to finally realise that teaching drama to young people was where I felt most happy. After gaining 10 years experience working with various different theatre schools I set up a Theatre Arts Company, The Drama Mill and Indelible Arts Youth Theatre in East Lothian. We are in our fourth year now and I am delighted to say we have around 500 children attending our after school workshops.

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
As we generally devise pieces this was not a typical way for us to work as we had a script from the beginning. Generally we create site specific or site responsive pieces showcasing different fantastic location in East Lothian. However, we did incorporate some of our devising techniques to build the characters of our musicians in our ensemble and had fun devising the movement and arranging the final song.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
It is a really fun and life affirming piece of theatre that should leave the audience feeling entertained and uplifted.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
As we have a company of young actors we chose a play that we felt our participants and their friends could relate too. We also performed locally I e in North Berwick so it would be easier for friends and family to attend and within the context of the play we utilised music and lighting to shape the audience experience.


Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
We try to vary our style as much as possible to give our young participants as many different experiences within “theatre’ as possible.

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