Our Junior Drama group for 8-13-year-olds has now been running for 14 years, having started in January 2006 with two senior members of our youtheatre. The workshops take participants through the disciplines of commitment, communication and concentration with sessions on improvisation, voice, movement and text incorporating a multitude of other fun drama activities and games. The workshops also develop social skills and confidence.
Since that time, fifteen former members of the youtheatre have taught Junior Drama: Francesca Duncan, Jonny Liron, Jack Speckleton, Andrew Oliveira, Jenny McCarthy, Jacqui Wagner, Sheri Burt, William Howell-Jackson, Hettie Duncan, Craig Hamilton, Raoul Crosby, Ellie Donohoe, Joss MacDonald, Lucy Abraham and Peter Jones. Daniel Austin returned as Director of the company in September 2015 and has since co-directed with Fiona Marchant (2015/16), Peter Jones (2016/17) and now Fynn Mason (2018 – present).
In June 2018, fourteen young actors performed a new piece of theatre, written by themselves, called ‘this untitled thing’ which was presented with a myriad of rucksacs, drinking beakers, inflatables, beach towels and culminated in a ‘monster mash’ party for the audience at the end!
In June 2019, twelve young actors took on the challenging task of staging the profound work of ‘The Art of War’ by Sun Tzu with the kind permission of the translator, John Minford. We were reminded in 13 chapters, of the consequences and futility of war, the skills and tactics necessary to outwit opponents and the discipline of offensives and espionage. This piece was staged by the group themselves incorporating giant chess pieces, a bike, rubble and incredible energy.
Over the past twelve years the group has also presented 12 other productions, including: David Holman’s Whale (2006), Lynne Reid Banks’s The Travels of Yoshi and the Tea Kettle (2009), an adaptation of The Jungle Book (2010), Nigel Williams’s adaptation of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies (2011), Granny Big Pants – created by the group (2012), the ancient classic The Odyssey (2013), Gargling with Jelly (2015), something theatre (2016) and Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach (2017). The group has also worked on Bertolt Brecht texts, devised and improvised along the way, and made presentations of short pieces.
Our Junior Drama group has written a couple of plays in the past three years and their next one is about the Earth and our lives on it. We were meant to be performing the piece in June but we may have to postpone now. Who knows! The play is called:
THREE TRILLION TONNES OF ICE
We started working on it back in January and so here is a small moment, written by one of its members who are all aged between 8-13 years:
“The Earth is our home: we are all connected by this big ball of life. We take it for granted. How we survive fascinates me. How we came here in the first place is a mystery we will never fully understand. I want a full, beautiful life here. I want to fulfil my dreams and grow up not needing to worry about if we are even going to make it. Everything is changing. Everything is becoming more and more dangerous. I worry if we don’t fix it, we will have no planet. But I love it for what it’s given me so far so we need to keep it that way.”
This piece was written on 16 January 2020.