Directing “Tomorrow I’ll Be Happy”
First some context about the company I direct, Yew Tree Youth Theatre have been around for about 16 years now. We’re based in Wakefield and have over 200 members aged between 6 and 24 years old who meet in 10 different companies every week. 2013 will see our ninth Connections play staged and my ninth Connections play directed. Despite being something of an old hand I am constantly surprised and delighted by the discoveries made on the journey.
We run Connections as an enhancement project. It’s for members of the youth theatre who want to be involved in a more intensive rehearsal process and performance opportunity over and above their usual weekly session. The company have a significant say in the play choice and then audition before casting, it’s the only Yew Tree Youth Theatre project we run where formal auditions take place.
Our connections play “Tomorrow I’ll Be Happy,” by Jonathan Harvey is a tough play. It’s tough to direct and tough for actors and it’ll be tough for the audience to watch. However it is an important story that needs to be told and that makes it worth the effort. Already the cast have had to challenge their own assumptions about society and put themselves in situations they would never imagined they would have to confront. Equally however they have had the opportunity to come to terms with things in their own lives. There is no denying that exploring and rehearsing a play like this teaches young people as much about the world they live in as the craft of making quality theatre.
One of the challenges in directing Youth Theatre is that the director has to fulfill so many roles. I have no costume department, no designer, no publicity department, no budget, no nothing. My only luxury is an inspiring co director who being a senior youth theatre member, in addition to his career as an actor, has a different insight into both the cast and the play. Oh and I have a talented lighting practitioner who helps me negate the need for anything but the most minimal of set.
This minimalist approach however allows me to concentrate on what I believe to be the heart of the Connections experience, acting. We are making the most of being able to explore both the craft and the application of acting in such depth with “Tomorrow I’ll Be Happy,” Asking questions of the text and the characters, exploring the world of the play. We’re asking the cast aged between 13 and 18 to rid themselves of their own idiosyncrasies and coping strategies so they can get to grips with an entirely different person. We talk a lot in rehearsal about humility and vulnerability as actors and equally about truth and integrity as performers.
In terms of progress we’re getting there – our first full run last week was interesting…it showed us how far we have come and how far we have to go. There is a lot of work to do but already I see the way that the cast are developing as a result of being able to do something as valuable and challenging as Connections and that is still as rewarding the first time I witnessed it…
If you want to find out more about Yew Tree Youth Theatre please visit www.yew-tree.com or http://www.facebook.com/YewTreeYouthTheatre or our blog www.yewtreeyouththeatre.blogspot.co.uk where a guest youth theatre member and I blog each week
30th January 2013