National Theatre Connections Festival

Jane reflects on the National Theatre Connections Festival in London

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It’s a very hot Saturday evening in the South Bank, street food vendors are lining the Thames next to the artificial beach and the skateboards are putting on a great display. There’s a real festival atmosphere which is great as we came for a festival! I’m hear with two of the Theatre Royal Plymouth’s Young Reps, Rosie and Mitch, to see the National Theatre’s Connections festival in full swing.

Connections is all about new writing for young performers, over the years some of the best playwrights in the world have written plays for the festival including David Mamet, Simon Armitage and Mark Ravenhill, and some of our favourites, Carl Grose, James Graham and Jack Thorne. Tonight we are fortunate to see Remote by Stef Smith and Drama, Baby by Jamie Brittain. This is Youth Theatre at its best, reflecting the experiences of young people in world we live in now, it’s contemporary and relevant and the performances are stunning.

We’ve been fortunate to be a partner venue for Connections for many years hosting all the groups in the South West in the regional festival. Next year it’s a celebratory year as Connections turns 21 so it’s going to be a big one! To celebrate the National Theatre are aiming to double the size of the festival with 500 youth groups across the country taking part. They are also bringing back 12 of the most exciting plays from the back catalog for youth groups to chose from so it’s set to be an extraordinary year.

This is Youth Theatre at its best, reflecting the experiences of young people in world we live in now, it’s contemporary and relevant and the performances are stunning.

Next year we will be working closely with our Young Reps to plan and deliver our regional festival. The Young Reps help the theatre to understand what our young audiences need from us, whether that’s through how they can get involved in making theatre through out creative learning programme or what young people need to make the most out of seeing productions on our stages. In their inaugural year the Young Reps we’re instrumental in setting up the TRP Standby scheme so that more young people than ever were able to attend the theatre at prices they could afford. This year our new team of Young Reps will be turning their attention to how we celebrate cutting edge theatre created by young people. The Young Reps will work with staff at the theatre to plan every aspect of the festival and our trip to the capital has given Mitch, Rosie and I a lot of inspiration and we can’t wait to get started.

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