It is 2007 and I'm an A-Level student dressed in all black.
For one special night, I run up and down the main stage at my high school placing every required prop in its rightful position, and await the moment the crowd on the other side of the thick, velvety closed curtain settles down, finally adhering to silence's command; I pride myself in being able to stealthily criss-cross across the stage taking or replacing props and set pieces completely unseen by the audience who are enraptured by the story being told by students who thrive at placing their chosen characters in the spotlight...
As I watched two groups of talented young theatre students put on their shows at HOME last Saturday, I was catapulted to that moment back in '07 - the one that gave me a taste of what it must feel like to put on a live show. The two theatre productions I was fortunate enough to see last weekend were part of the National Theatre's Connections Festival: an annual nationwide festival that helps 250 youth theatres and schools put on 10 newly commissioned plays especially written for young people, giving the participants an opportunity to experience professional theatre-making and a chance to perform for a wider audience.
The Blue Coat School were up first with their take on Matthew Bulgo's #YOLO, a play about a recent A-Level graduate who grapples with the outcome of results day and his latest health consultation as his peers are celebrating the fact that they are finally free. The ensemble's impressive performance was partnered beautifully with a rather contemporary soundtrack, played live by a talented band, resulting in a piece that successfully reels its audience into the emotions of its lead characters.
The second and last show of the evening was put on by CYA@HOME (in partnership with Community Arts North West) who performed Lizzie Nunnery's The Snow Dragon, a tale set in Norway during WWII: a group of friends are playing in the woods one day when suddenly their town is taken over by German soldiers resulting in them becoming their town's 'last line of resistance'. I really enjoyed this one! The actors had me eager to find out if their characters succeed in their quest and I found the set, though simplistic, to be quite bold as it held a fort I would not mind having myself.
All in all, it was a fantastic opportunity to catch a glimpse of what the next generation of storytellers have in store for us all. Once they left all they had to say on the stage, I exited the theatre feeling encouraged to chase my ever-evolving dreams and determined to actively cheer on the multitude of dreamers out there as I do so.