Students perform in National Theatre Festival

14 May 24

On Wednesday 8 May, students from Y10 HOUSELIGHTS ‘lite’ performed at the Gulbenkian Theatre, Canterbury, as part of the National Theatre’s CONNECTIONS festival.

The CONNECTIONS festival is an opportunity for young people across the country to take part in live theatre supported by theatre professionals and technicians. It is open to any youth group including schools and drama clubs. A few selected centres are then invited to take part in the festival supported by a regional theatre. The best of the best are then invited to perform at the National Theatre itself.

The project began in the Autumn when Miss Cross took part in some introductory workshops at the National Theatre and was allocated a play from one of six new emerging playwrights - ‘Kiss/Marry/Push Off Cliff’ by Josh Azouz. This was possibly one of the most challenging of the plays featuring a talking dog, panther and psychedelic moth. It also tackled more mature themes than the other plays.

After students had taken part in some exploratory physical theatre workshops, Mrs Cackett picked up the reins, hot off the back of a successful production of Wizard of Oz.

Mrs Cackett said ‘We were up against it a bit because there wasn’t much time between the live school performance and the performance at the Gulbenkian, but I can’t fault the attitude and effort of our cast. They have been so passionate about this project and some real stars have emerged as a result, but I don’t want to single out anyone in particular because they have been so supportive of each other as group and they have been possibly one of the nicest ensembles I’ve had the pleasure to work with.’

‘I have to say the day at the Gulbenkian was a real highlight, and such a treat for the cast. They got to spend the morning with the team from Pappy Theatre and that alone was a pleasure to witness - our students were so receptive and engaged and every last one of them had a huge smile on their face. It was great.

‘After lunch we then had a chance to work with the Gubenkian’s technical team, who were put through their paces by one of our students, James Rowland Hill, who absolutely revelled in the opportunity to experiment with the Gulbenkian’s full technical rig and ran the lights and sound for the show by himself. That left me free to work with the cast and run through a few scenes before the dress rehearsal. This was a little nerve wracking as we were under the watchful eye of one of the National Theatre’s Youth Directors and the Gulbenkian’s Youth Director, but they were so nice about our students and so supportive.

‘I’m so happy for the cast, the final performance was their best one yet. They all really raised the bar and this has been such a valuable learning experience for them. It will have done their confidence such a boost and it’s such an honour to have been able to be part of the National Theatre’s CONNECTIONS festival for the first time.’

Mr Smith said ‘A sensational day, really great to see our students taking part and to hear so much positive feedback from everyone at the Gulbenkian and Pappy Theatre. They were really welcoming and said they hoped we’d take part again next year - which is always nice to hear. Oh, and the cherry on the top, we beat our partner school at Giant Jenga during the lunch break… never has a game of Jenga been SO tense!’

‘Lastly, thanks once again to all the support staff and teaching colleagues who helped to make this possible - from trip paperwork, first aid reports, mini-bus drivers, rehearsal mentors and beyond - there were 18 students involved in this project and at least 14 staff behind the scenes which I think people don’t realise. We’re so fortunate to work in such a supportive and collaborative school. Thanks guys, and once again huge congratulations to our fabulous year 10 cast on a job well done!!’