National Theatre Connections 2020
By Mojisola Adebayo, Chris Bush, Alison Carr, John Donnelly, Vivienne Franzmann, Hattie Naylor, Andrew Muir, Frances Poet, Silva Semerciyan, Chris Thompson
National Theatre Connections is an annual festival which brings new plays for young people to schools and youth theatres across the UK and Ireland. Commissioning exciting work from leading playwrights, the festival exposes actors aged 13-19 to the world of professional theatre-making, giving them full control of a theatrical production - from costume and set design to stage management and marketing campaigns. NT Connections have published over 150 original plays and regularly works with 500 theatre companies and 10,000 young people each year.
This anthology brings together 9 new plays by some of the UK's most prolific and current writers and artists alongside notes on each of the texts exploring performance for schools and youth groups.
Wind / Rush Generation(s) by Mojisola Adebayo
This is a play about the British Isles, its past and its present. Set in a senior common room, in a prominent university, a group of 1st year undergraduates are troubled, not by the weight of their workload, but by a 'noisy' ghost. So they do what any group self-respecting and intelligent university students would do in such a situation – they get out the Ouija Board to confront their spiritual irritant and lay them to rest – only to be confronted by the full weight of Britain's colonial past – in all its gory glory. Fusing naturalism, with physical theatre, spoken-word, absurdism, poetry and direct address – this is event-theatre that whips along with the grace, pace and hypnotic magnetism of a hurricane.
Tuesday by Alison Carr
Tuesday is light, playful and nuanced in tone. And a little bit sci-fi. The play centres on an ordinary Tuesday that suddenly turns very weird indeed when a tear rips across the sky over the school yard. The play touches on themes of friendship, sibling love, family, identity, grief, bullying, loneliness and responsibility. And in the process we might just learn something about ourselves as well as some astronomical theories of the multiverse!
A series of public apologies (in response to an unfortunate incident in the school lavatories) by John Donnelly
This satirical play is heightened in its naturalism, in its seriousness, in its parody and piercing in its interrogation of how our attempts to define ourselves in public are shaped by the fear of saying the wrong thing. Presented quite literally as a series of public apologies this play is spacious, flexible and welcoming of inventive and imaginative interpretation as each iteration spirals inevitably to its absurdist core. This is a play on words, on convention, on manners, on institutions, on order, online and on point.
THE IT by Vivienne Franzmann
THE IT is a play about a teenage girl who has something growing inside her. She doesn't know what it is, but she knows it's not a baby. It expands in her body. It starts in her stomach, but quickly outgrows that, until eventually ittakes over the entirety of her insides. It has claws. She feels them.
Presented in the style of a direct to camera documentary, this is a darkly comic state of the nation play exploring adolescent mental health and the rage within, written very specifically for today.
The Marxist in Heaven by Hattie Naylor
The Marxist in Heaven is a play that does exactly what its title page says it's going to do. The eponymous protagonist 'wakes up' in paradise and once they get over the shock of this fundamental contradiction of everything they believe in…..they get straight back to work….and continue their lifelong struggle for equality and fairness for all….even in death. Funny, playful, provocative, pertinent and jam-packed with discourse, disputes, deities and disco dancing by the bucketful, this upbeat buoyant allegory shines its holy light on globalization and asks the salient questions – who are we and what are we doing to ourselves?.....and what conditioner do you use on your hair?
Look Up by Andrew Muir
Look Up plunges us into a world free from adult intervention, supervision and protection. It's about seeking the truth for yourself and finding the space to find and be yourself. Nine young people are creating new rules for what they hope will be a new and brighter future full of hope in a world in which they can trust again. Each one of them is unique, original and defiantly individual, break into an abandoned building and set about claiming the space, because that is what they do. They have rituals, they have rules, together they are a tribe, they have faith in themselves….and nothing and no one else. They are the future, unless the real world catches up with them and then all they can hope for is that they don't crash and burn like the adults they ran away from in the first place.
Crusaders by Frances Poet
A group of teens gather to take their French exam but none of them will step into the exam hall. Because Kyle has had a vision and he'll use anything, even miracles, to ensure his classmates accompany him. Together they have just seven days to save themselves, save the world and be the future.
And Kyle is not the only one who has had the dream. All across the globe, from Azerbaijan to Zambia, children are dreaming and urging their peers to follow them to the promised land. Who will follow? Who will lead? Who will make it?
Witches Can't Be Burned by Silva Semerciyan
St. Paul's have won the schools Playfest competition, three years in a row, by selecting recognised classics from the canon and producing them at an exceptionally high level, it's a tried and trusted formula. With straight A's student and drama freak, Anuka cast as Abigail Williams in The Crucible by Arthur Miller, the school seem to be well on course for another triumph, which would be a record. However, as rehearsals gain momentum, Anuka has an epiphany. An experience resulting in her asking searching questions surrounding the text, the depiction and perception of female characters, the meaning of loyalty, and the values and traditions underpinning the very foundations of the school. Thus, the scene is set for a confrontation of epic proportions as Anuka seeks to break with tradition, before tradition breaks her and all young women like her and reality begins to take on the ominous hue of Miller's fictionalized Salem.
Dungeness by Chris Thompson .
In a remote part of the UK, where nothing ever happens, a group of teenagers share a safe house for LGBT+ young people.
While their shared home welcomes difference, it can be tricky for self-appointed group leader Birdie to keep the peace. The group must decide how they want to commemorate an attack that happened to LGBT+ people, in a country far away. How do you take to the streets and protest if you're not ready to tell the world who you are? If you're invisible, does your voice still count? A play about love, commemoration and protest.