Tag Archives: National Theatre

The Show Must Go On – Teens Are So Amazing.

London

London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last weekend I was lucky enough to be in the audience at one of the venues where The National Theatre’s Connections Festival was taking place.  The Connections Festival is the nation’s leading theatre festival for young actors.  The National Theatre commissions new plays to be written and drama groups all over the country get to do their thing in well -known theatres.  The grand prize is to perform at The National Theatre in London.

The group my son is involved with were all very excited about performing.  The principle of the school is an inspiring and charismatic young woman who truly gets the best out of them.  She was due to have her first baby but the baby wasn’t due until a couple of weeks after the performance.  All was well and truly organised, they had rehearsed until they dropped and they were ready to break a leg.  It is only on television in sitcoms that people go into labour at the crucial moment – actually that is not true.  The principle went into labour on the day of the show.  The show was a musical with a huge cast, it could have all fallen to pieces.  This comes to my point about teens – they carried on and sang and acted their hearts out.  I thought my heart would burst with pride, not only for my son but for every kid in that performance.  To say they blew me away would be an understatement.

The next play was about to begin.  The actors were on the stage – some were lying down flat on their stomachs, others were crouched up like snails.  The lights went on and we waited.  The lights went off and we thought it was for dramatic effect.  After sitting for a long time whilst the lights went on and off, I was beginning to think that it was one of those pieces which is truly out of the box.  However, the stage manager came and announced that there was something wrong with the lighting and they were working on it.  During this time, the actors, all in their teens, had to stay in those awful positions and not move.  We waited and waited and the audience started shuffling their bottoms in their seats but the teenagers stayed as still as if they were made of marble.  I really was impressed because their nerves must have been getting to them with a packed theatre all looking on.  Eventually, the lights were sorted and they just got on with performing, no fuss, nothing.  Well let’s face it folks – the show must go on!

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Filed under Education, For Teens, Inspiration and Us, Self Esteem and Literature

How Drama Classes Give Teenagers Work Experience.

All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players:

(As You Like It)

Last weekend, I watched the same rock musical for three nights running.  It was performed by a group of teenagers and children who are participating in Connections – a theatre festival/competition run by The National Theatre.  The National Theatre commissions ten new plays each year for Connections.  This year 180 theatre groups are taking part.  Each group performs locally and then performs at one of The National Theatre’s partner theatres around the country.  Eventually, ten groups are chosen to perform their play at the National Theatre in London.  Over the course of the weekend, I noticed how being in the production was similar to being in the workplace and how it could be classed as work experience for those taking part.

I constantly hear news items about how companies cannot employ teenagers because they haven’t got any experience in the workplace.  This gets me annoyed and I write articles about how great teenagers are to work with.  However, we cannot get away from the fact that teenagers need work experience.  It does not take a brain surgeon to work out that whilst school provides an education, it generally does not provide much work experience.  It cannot be expected to do everything.

One of the main differences between being at school all day and being at work is the timetable.  In school, teenagers might do Maths for 70 minutes, English for 70 minutes and P.E. for 35 minutes.  At work we might spend three full days doing the same activity over until we get it right.  Teenagers will experience this in a drama production.  I have no connections with a drama school; I am the parent of a teenage boy who attends weekly classes.  I am stating this to demonstrate that I am writing this purely as part of my mission with Loony Literature.  Over the course of the weekend, the teenagers spent eleven hours rehearsing plus four hours performing.  This was in addition to endless, weekly rehearsals.  I was astonished by the improvement in each performance I saw.  This is wonderful work experience for any teenager.

Confidence affects every decision we make.  Being a teenager can be a roller coaster of conflict as we agonise about our appearance and whether anyone finds us even a bit attractive.  For teenagers,  confidence is paramount, it affects their belief that they can pass examinations; it affects their career choice and their social standing.  No one wants to be a wall flower.   Being involved in a drama class insidiously installs confidence.  When I saw those teenagers singing and acting in such a positive and forceful manner, I knew that unless those kids weren’t 100% sure of themselves in that production, they would not have completely let go – they would have appeared reserved.  People who are not entirely comfortable in their parts can be seen to be acting; people who are entirely comfortable in their parts seem to be the truthful representation of what they are portraying.   It then occurred to me that this confidence came from being proud of their product – their product being themselves.  I cannot imagine a better tool to be equipped with when starting in the workplace.  We’ve all seen how the painfully shy teenager can appear bad mannered because he/she is too embarrassed to speak amongst older people and strangers.  Drama classes give the teenager the work experience which in turn gives them confidence to be social in a work environment.

On the first night of production, the bulb went in the changing area.  At this moment, my son and one of the girl actors had to do a quick costume change.  Unfortunately, the girl actor could not find her costume.  There was intense panic as both my son and the young lady in question scrambled around in the dark looking for the outfit.  It was nowhere to be found.  As they came out onto the stage, I remember thinking what a strange costume the actress was wearing – it looked a bit like an underskirt.  When I heard the story later, I roared with laughter.  The point is that the young woman had the confidence to go out and carry on with the show.  She also knew that this wasn’t like school where everything could be stopped whilst the costume was found; this was like work and many people were depending upon her.

Being part of a drama production teaches being a team player.  This is imperative in the work place.  Being a team player means being able to work closely with people both younger and older than yourself.  Often, when in schools, because of the vast numbers of pupils, children tend to work mostly with other children of exactly the same age.  It is often a shock to find that we are the only young person in the office when we get our first work experience.  Going to drama classes means an eleven year old will often work closely with a fourteen year old and an eighteen year old.  They get used to being with kids of different ages – it is like the workplace – age is of no consequence – the important bit is that you are a team player.

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Filed under Education, For Teens, Parenting