Sunday, 6 July 2008

timberlake wertenbaker and anna furse (national theatre new connections)

saturday 5th july 2008

national theatre new connections

New Connections is a red-hot season of short new plays created by established writers and performed by young people.
High-profile writers including Mark Ravenhill, Abi Morgan, Jack Thorne and Bryony Lavery have written plays for this year’s festival.
The search for identity pulses through New Connections 2008: for acceptance and survival in modern Britain, for racial equality in 1960s South Africa, by deception in magical allotments, during white-out in a snow blizzard, through parenting, through faith, or by comic mistakes of social networking.

Arden City
by Timberlake Wertenbaker
Rosie and Sally are two cousins who escape from home after difficulties with Sally’s father. Rosie dresses as a boy for safety and the girls find their way to an allotment. Orlando, who also has to flee because his brother Oliver wants him killed, finds his way to the allotment with Adam, his younger friend.
A modern retelling of As You Like It: a story about love, identity and freedom.
Performed by Daydreamer Youth Theatre, Watford

static but often well delivered reading, stong textural script but unfortunately mostly wooden and often cheesey

The Peach Child
by Anna Furse and Little Angel Theatre
An adaptation of a well-loved Japanese fairytale. One day, as the Old Woman washes kimonos in the river, a large peach floats by. She takes it to her husband for dinner. As he cuts into the flesh, a baby boy is born. They call him Momotaro – ‘peach child’ – and he brings joy to their lives. At the age of 15 the boy tells his adoptive parents that he has to leave them. Over the other side of the mountain dwells the evil Ogre who must be overcome.

Anna Furse, Artistic Director of Athletes of the Heart, was also Artistic Director for Paines Plough in the early 1990s and Bloodgroup in the 1980s. She is an award-winning director and writer of over 50 productions that have toured internationally, including Augustine (Big Hysteria) (Time Out Award for Writing and Directing), and Gorgeous. The Peach Child was originally written and directed for The Little Angel Theatre (Japan Festival and the National Children’s Theatre Festival 2001). She wrote and directed My Glass Body for BBC Radio 3. Current productions include Don Juan Who? (with Mladinsko, Ljubljana, touring the UK in association with FEEAST) and DUST, being researched in India on an ArtsAdmin Bursary.
Performed by Kennet School, Newbury

much more successful with the whole company (notably a school rather than youth drama group) involved in making the performance...

+ fab effects with newspapers making the set (screens, hillside, sea, boat) and costumes
+ great movements from live to puppetry into live or the two happening together so we got the peach child appearing as an infant and then (swiftly) growing up into a young man, the people leaving the house as tiny figures seen heading up the hillside, the bird who swoops in b4 being replaced with an actor …
+ live music throughout punctuating and adding dimension (harp and 2 horns)
+ use of silhouette and simple movement and to convey moments in the story and character (like the ogre)
+ terrific ensemble work to make the puppets work (3 boys manipulate the peach child infant and the set
huge amount of work that is much more engaging than the previous ‘straight play’ presentation. definitely a big hooray for what devised theatre can make possible with an amateur group

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