Zero for the Young Dudes!: Students take part in NT Connections

Date: Tue 23 May 2017   Author: Dan Wong (Year 9)   Category: Drama   Share: Share on facebookShare on TwitterShare on MySpaceShare by Email

Earlier this term, a group of students from Year 8 through to the Upper Sixth partook in the National Theatre Connections; an annual nationwide festival of new plays for schools and youth theatres which gives young people the chance to experience professional theatre-making.

The Connections scheme commissions ten brand new plays each year which are then put on by over 260 youth companies and schools across the UK – over 10,000 young people are involved in what is “the biggest youth theatre festival on the planet”. John Lyon's play of choice was Zero for the Young Dudes!, a piece of new writing by Alistair McDowall.

Just like a professional production, there was a vigorous audition process, with preliminary auditions followed by recalls, before a cast of 24 actors, along with three backstage and two lighting and sound operators, was announced. The production was to culminate with two performances in the School’s Boyd Campbell Hall and a professional performance at the Arts Depot in North Finchley.

Zero For the Young Dudes! explores a dystopian future within a prisoner of war camp with children at war with adults. We were given the freedom to experiment and added subplots to the script, forming relationships between certain characters, which was simultaneously easy and challenging as there were no set characters. The number of actors in each scene also influenced the artistic vision of the play as it developed over time, from the initial rehearsals in January right up to the first performance at the end of March.

The two nights on the 23rd and 24th March in the Boyd Campbell Hall were a success. The performances provided us feedback and ideas to tweak elements of it before the Arts Depot performance. The Arts Depot was a completely different atmosphere altogether – the studio space was smaller and more intimate; the audience was closer and the performance space itself much smaller. Prior to the performance, we rehearsed in a separate rehearsal room tucked away from the rest of the venue, trying our best to relax for the evening’s show. Before we knew it, at 6pm, we were warming up and settling down to watch another company’s performance, which was riveting, and thoroughly enjoyable. After a short interval, we swapped places and everyone sat, enthralled and mesmerised, as we perfectly executed our rendition of Zero For the Young Dudes!

Thanks must go out to Mr. Jones, Dr. Sudhaker, Mr. Rao and Mr. Felgate for their invaluable help and contributing to what was a memorable day for all the cast and crew.