Four leading regional theatres are working in partnership to commission a new play for their Youth Theatres and Young Companies.
Northampton’s Royal & Derngate, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Derby Theatre and Dundee Rep Theatre are all dedicated to producing work as part of their Youth Theatre programmes that is contemporary, cutting-edge, and most importantly, based in the world of young people.
Through a hands-on commissioning process that involves young people throughout, the project is rooted in the experience of what it means to be young in Britain today, aiming to create a relevant new play bursting with powerful ideas and provocative themes.
In a process that spans two years, the young people initially participated in the selection of a writer from a shortlist, choosing up-and-coming playwright Laura Lomas, who is currently the Channel 4 Playwright in Residence at Clean Break Theatre Company. Best known for her plays Joanne (Clean Break/Soho Theatre) and Bird (Derby Theatre and Nottingham Playhouse), Laura is also currently working with the Royal Court Theatre.
Over the coming months, Laura will be visiting each venue for workshops with the young people where they can feed ideas into the creation of the script’s first draft. Then in October four young people from each venue will come together for a residential weekend to work on the first full draft of the play with Laura.
At each theatre a cast of up to 25 young people, aged from 14 to 21, will stage a production of the new play in the summer of 2017, with a celebration event taking place once all companies have performed. The play script will subsequently be published, providing a legacy from the project for future years.
Sarah Brigham, Artistic Director of Derby Theatre, commented: “We are delighted to be part of this exciting partnership. This is flagship project for us all and I believe is testament to the fact that all these theatres take young people’s voices seriously. Laura Lomas is a writer of exceptional talent and I’m excited to see how she shapes those young people’s voices into a script. As someone who attended Youth Theatre as young person, I believe it is the lifeblood of our industry, where we nurture talent, develop artists and of course create rounded, engaged young people.”
This co-commissioning model builds upon Royal & Derngate, Theatre Royal Plymouth and West Yorkshire Playhouse’s world premiere productions of Immune by Oladipo Agboluaje in 2015 and Theatre Royal Plymouth, Birmingham Rep and West Yorkshire Playhouse’s productions of Girls Like That by Evan Placey in 2014.