The Australian Theatre For Young People (ATYP), the national youth theatre company, is committed to commissioning and developing plays that young people aged between 10 and 26 can perform.
Each year a selection of 20 writers aged between 18 and 26 attend the National Studio at Bundanon near Nowra for a week long playwriting retreat led by some of the nation’s leading playwrights and dramaturgs. By the end of the week they must have written seven minute scenes for their cohort actors. ATYP then selects ten of these short plays for production. The end of this creative journey is a collection of plays with the umbrella title being INTERSECTION : ARRIVAL.
The performance we attended today at the Griffin Theatre was sent out live to high schools throughout the country.
It would be unfair nay impossible to cherry-pick a favourite play but what was pleasurable was the youthful exuberance of the cast who brought the playwrights’ words to life. The ensemble of twelve actors masterfully directed by Sophie Kelly met some particular challenges that had to be overcome. Because some of the actors had school and university commitments, the rehearsal times had to be limited ie 3 weeks. Furthermore, for the first two weeks of rehearsals the scenes had to be blocked using tables. Scaffolding sets arrived a week before the performance necessitating a restaging of the play.
The ensemble cast ranged in ages between 16 years old and 23 years old with their words capturing the rhythm of today’s youth as well as the topics which engaged them. These included alienation, the desire to belong to a group of their peers, sexuality, masturbation and gender, body image, acute embarrassment, transgender and gay issues, and young love,to name but a few packed into the ten plays. Because the young actors could relate so easily to these topics they leapt into their roles with gusto. Many of the plays are layered with humour, cheekiness and optimism.
The set and costume designs by Tyler Hawkins, in particular I want to mention the two sets of scaffolding which were ‘danced around’ the stage, broken down and rebuilt to conjure up scenes on trains, a cinema, a school locker room, and a highway encounter with a dog, and a disco nightclub.
After the performance ended there was a Q and A with the cast. When asked what they derived most from being involved in the production, the cast spoke of the level of professionalism demanded and obtained by ATYP. Cast and crew were punctual, the ATYP looked after their needs and they were able to concentrate on getting their performances right. One of the aims of today’s special matinee simulcast was to inspire and encourage talented young actors to audition for future productions at the Australian Theatre for Young People.
Recommended, INTERSECTION: ARRIVAL will continue to play at the Stables Theatre, 10 Nimrod Street, Kings Cross until 16th February, 2019.
Director Sophie Kelly
Dramaturg : Jane Fitzgerald
Set and Costume Design : Tyler Hawkins
Lighting Designer : Martin Kinnane
Composer and Sound Designer : Chrysoulla Markoulli