Introduction: A few weeks ago Youth Theatre Intern, Kate Hunter, wrote about the process of creating Youth Theatre performances inspired by items from the Theatre Archives. Last week we had the privilege of watching the 36 Youth Theatre groups performing what they had come up with over this past term. The varied interpretations and responses to the heritage material were fantastic and the creativity of all the groups was really impressive. As part of this project the Youth Theatre members conducted research into the item they were inspired by, below is the research and explanation for one of these performances, written by Alice Banfield from one of the year 11 Youth Theatre groups.
Rachel Bingham, Heritage Activities Trainee:
For our stimulus our group were given a series of newspaper cuttings from 1965 relating to Laurence Olivier and announcing the splitting of both Chichester Festival Theatre and the National Theatre Companies. This happened when John Clements took over the position of Artistic Director at Chichester, ending the direct association of Chichester with the National Theatre and forming an independent company. Prior to this Olivier was Artistic Director to both Chichester Festival Theatre and The National Theatre. It was at Chichester that he formed the company that would unite with the Old Vic to create the National Theatre Company.We split into two groups and went away to decipher the main points regarding this split in a timeline of events and also considered how we would interpret this and our theme. We went for two pieces which we believe were at opposite ends of the theatrical spectrum. The first group decided to do a realistic gangster scene which, as it developed, became more of a comedic play. The second group decided to do a pantomime style piece with a superhero theme. The theme of this piece however had far more of the superhero element incorporated compared to the pantomime. We decided to use these styles as they are commonly recognised by people of all ages and therefore would make a universal piece. We then added the timeline to this to show our theme surrounding the event. We also decided to make it as though we were the two theatres coping on their own after the initial split.
Our opening scene was based around what our group thought were the main roots of theatre. We decided to use Shakespeare and key quotes which we feel have an impact on modern life and also the foundations of theatre. We then used this to show the split of Chichester Festival Theatre and the National Theatre and divided into our groups. At the end of the piece we again recreated this scene but in our individual groups to show the Theatres on their own.