The Youth Theatre Presents [BLANK]: The Process by Ellie Kettleton

Eleanor Kettleton, a former member of our Youth Theatre, has returned to Chickenshed after graduating last year from Royal Holloway. As part of the Young Creator Trainee Programme, she is heading up a youth-led steering committee made up of current Youth Theatre members as they develop a new piece of work as part of the National Theatre’s Connections Festival. Here's what she had to say about the process.

This year, members from Chickenshed’s Youth Theatre will be participating in the National Theatre’s Connections Festival. This is an annual festival of new work where ten plays are commissioned and then performed by over 200 youth theatres throughout the United Kingdom. The Festival doesn’t cater to youth theatres as large as ours but to be involved in such a project is valuable for a smaller group and through the project the cast will develop skills they can feed directly into the work they will do within the wider youth theatre, and will also take on the responsibility of representing them.

In August we received ten new scripts. The small Youth Theatre steering group, who are developing, planning and producing the project, selected [BLANK] by Alice Birch as our top choice and luckily it was the play we were allocated. Birch’s innovative invitation to youth theatres to construct their own play using over 50 seemingly unconnected scenes has provided an exciting challenge from the outset and has allowed the group to take ownership of the script even before the rehearsal process.

[BLANK] has been co-commissioned by Clean Break and is a play about adults and children impacted by the criminal justice system and highlights the often cyclical nature of violence and incarceration. We are two rehearsals in, with a cast of over 20, and it is exciting to see the group enthused and inspired by this robust piece of theatrical writing. The play will be performed at Chickenshed on 22, 23 and 24 February and then again at artsdepot at the beginning of May. We can’t wait.