Monday, 5 March 2018

If you’d like an insight into how our connections plays are Jacob! 

Welcome once again to the rambling, but hopefully still enjoyable, blog of the one and only Jacob Dore. The topic for this blog is connections week, a very much enjoyable time of year for all those esteemed actors who take part in connections. What is connections week you might ask? Well it’s exactly what it sounds like, it’s a week of giving up your February half term to constantly rehearse the connections play from dawn to dusk. Now this might sound quite off-putting to anybody considering doing connections in the years to come but I’ll let you in on a little secret... You get food. Sure you might have to pay for the food and it’s nutritional value may be in theory only but nonetheless, a highlight of any thespians life. But in all seriousness I cannot express enough how incredible this week has been, not just for me but for all my fellow connections attendees. It is an amazing time where you are fully able to get to grips with what it means to be your character and the emotions and soul this fictional person has. As cliché as it sounds, they become a real person.

Now in this section I’d like to draw attention to the talented and resilient people I have worked alongside. Above all else everybody in this cast has always given 100% in their performances (even if it is the 20th time doing the same line because it juuuust wasn’t quite right). They’ve not only been resilient in the face of challenges in session but also outside, they’re always ready to set aside the problems of the scary outside world and get their heads down. It also goes without mentioning all of the cast are incredibly talented, even down to the youngest member. Now unfortunately I’m going to have to namedrop someone as much as he’ll probably hate me for it, but it can’t go unspoken. One of my fellow cast members and closest compadres inside of Yewtree, Nathan Crawshaw, has made such leaps and bounds (actually it’s not justice to call them leaps or bounds, these are absolute launches he’s made) in not only his confidence but his skill and genuine heart when performing. Before connections it’s no secret that he wasn’t always the most vocal and confident, but when he steps into his costume and sprints onto stage, he’s loud, he’s proud and he’s Johnny. I’m going to stop singing his praises now because I feel at this point I’m embarrassing him, but what I’ve just said about Nathan can be applied to any and all of the ceasefire babies cast, they are all such an incredible cast that it is an honour and a privilege to have had them be my last connections squad, they have made this year so much easier for me and for that they are legends.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Delighted to share Helena's end of half term blog with you!

The first term of the year always brings an air of excitement with it. Christmas shows are over, and in Black company that means it’s time to decide what our next project is going to be. This is one of my favourite times of the year because it’s a time where anything is possible! New people move into the group, new voices and opinions appear and together, you begin to find the voice of the company. In Black, we’ve been doing a lot of exploring; trying to find the next play we would perform. In Sarah’s words we were looking for ‘a classic that isn’t Shakespeare’. After weeks of workshops, trying different styles, eras and playwrights out, we decided on Brecht’s ‘Fear and Misery in the Third Reich’. The play explores the lives of people living under Hitler’s reign during the Second World War. Having an episodic style means every scene brings completely unique challenges and potential. We’ve only just started so it’s too soon to say but between you and me, I think it’ll be something special.
As well as Black company, we also have the Connections cast working on The Ceasefire Babies by Fiona Doyle. This play is split between scenes set in 1979 Ireland, during the Ballymurphy Massacre, and a modern day cast experiencing the repercussions of what the massacre caused. The play explores the relationship between war and young people. It hones in on groups of teenagers trying to live their lives in the shadow of war, and explores how that influences their journey through life. It’s intelligent, witty, and heartbreaking all at once. On the 5th and 6th of March we will be performing at CAPA college. If you’re free those evenings I urge you to come and watch. It is not a show to be missed.  I’ve had the honour of helping out during the rehearsal period ,watching this play come to life and I have to say I am wowed by the amount of talent, maturity and passion the cast have brought. In the cast there are people of all ages, all with experience levels. From the younger ones just starting their Connections journey to the old regulars, the level of commitment and bravery is equal all round and it is a joy to watch.
Regardless of what company you’re in, I hope the beginning of the year brought you nothing but inspiration and happiness! There’s so much potential for greatness and I’m really looking forward to the year ahead.
Helena x

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Connor's Yew Tree 2018 Life So Far I don't think I'll ever get bored of writing these blogs and getting to reflect on everything that's happened so far for me as part of Yew Tree. Last year was exceptional and so far in 2018 it's been no different.
My life is basically revolving around Yew Tree but I don't think I'll ever complain. Especially when it offers so much for me as a young actor. I ended 2017 with the Open-Mic Night and the Christmas shows so my expectations were incredibly high going into 2018 and it hasn't disappointed. There's Connections where it's developed into a piece that I'm already super proud of. But has also challenged me as an actor more than any other piece that I've done in the past and I love it for that. We've got our first set of performances of Ceasefire Babies in early March and I know it's going to be amazing and a can't-miss.
But that's not all! There's Gold company as well. Where we're working on my very first miners play. If I'm honest, I was a bit sceptical at first when I read the script but now that we've got it on its feet and are performing, I adore it. Alan Wood, the playwright, did a brilliant job at creating such a moving and tragic play and I'm so happy to be taking part in it. I even get to perform a song with my friend Elliyah, which just makes it even more special.
Yew Tree has been the best part of my life now for nearly a year and I couldn't be more grateful to be part of it all. Whether it's taking part in productions, volunteering and helping with Sapphire company or just all the wonderful people that make me smile every time, I love being part of it all and I look forward to what the rest of 2018 has in-store for me!
Dec Kelly with our first blog of the half term!

2018! Let’s just say that the start to Yew tree 2018 has been a challenge already… And what we’re only 2 months in. National Theatre Connections is just around the corner and the entire cast have been working so hard. ‘Ceasefire Babies’ by Fiona Doyle is a play which requires so many skills from the cast in order to create this amazing story about how traumatic events from past conflicts can cause such a large impact on modern society. The rehearsal process from day one has pushed us to our limits with our acting skills but also physical skills. During the rehearsal process so far we have been able to explore the characters within the play and relating these youthful characters to events of ‘Ballymurphy Massacre of 1971’ which the play is inspired by. The music we have being rehearsing with has given the piece a whole new gritty feels to the performance helping us as a cast understand the problems faced by a war-torn country. I must admit though, trying to find a nice 1970’s costume for myself has got to be the hardest task!! Why didn’t they just wear skinny jeans?? Anyways Monday 19th February is when we start out intense weeks of rehearsals known as ‘Connections Week’. People who have being part of connections in previous years understand and know how important this week is. So to all the younger cast member’s this year, be ready to get pushed a lot by Sarah. Going to be stressful but trust me it will be worth it by the end. So everyone you need to get down to CAPA college on the 5th and 6th of March for a heart gripping performance of Ceasefire Babies. After last year’s success with Black's companies performance of ‘Macbeth’ by William Shakespeare. Black company are performing a Brecht play later on this year near summer time. We workshopped many different texts ranging from contemporary and classical texts which all have different challenges. We decided on the play ‘Fear And Misery Of The Third Reich’. The Brecht play explores 24 interconnected playlets which describe the events which took place in German households in 1930’s. We knew the text was going to have a lot of challenging plotlines due to the fact that there were large amounts of suspicion and anxiety experienced by ordinary people. A large challenge in the text is going to be exploring the Jewish citizens who were impacted as well as the German households as Hitler and his power grew. The play has 24 scene which all have many different characters who represent different people in this society. I think the play is going to come with many challenges some which we are yet to find. With new members in the companies each year it’s nice to work on different texts with different people. There’s one thing about yew tree which shines out more than anything and it’s how we are constantly pushed to our limits if that’s throughout weekly rehearsals, connections, LAMDA exams or for some of us Drama school auditions. So best make most of everything that’s happening and take hold of every opportunity because who knows, I could be going to University after summer. Who knows?? Declan

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Becky with the final blog of our brilliant series...

I returned to Yew Tree towards the end of 2017 after being a member previously for around two years. Having left at a time of change to finish off my A levels, I came back to find most members of Gold company had left and been replaced by new people even though I’d only been away 8 months. It’s a strange feeling returning somewhere that feels half familiar and half unknown.
Of course, after just a few sessions, you can feel yourself getting back into the swing of things – with all the classic Yew Tree games that you didn’t even realise you missed, and the remaining members who you haven’t seen in such a long time. So, eventually, you begin to realise that although everything and everyone seems to have changed, it really isn’t as different as you initially thought.
To begin with, I have to say that Halloween was one of the highlights of 2017. Working with my fabulous fellow witches, we put together a highly condensed performance of ‘Macbeth’. Well, the Macbeth witches part of it anyway. It’s always great fun taking on a character so different from yourself, and being a witch is one of the finest examples of this. We only had a few rehearsals, but the action came together in the end, with the help of our matching witch costumes and “witchy” makeup. We had two rather immersive performances which consisted of everything from randomly taking hold of an audience member’s hand to inspect it for blood to screaming and falling to the floor. It was certainly a very full-on way to get back into Yew Tree after my break!
This year’s (or should I now say last year’s) performances also consisted of Gold company’s Christmas performance “Ella” – an adaptation of Cinderella and my very last Christmas show. Again, I was cast with a character very different from myself – the flirtatious and outgoing Lois, who at first I felt quite self-conscious playing. However, by the performance night, my character had changed so much and become so loud and dramatic that even I felt as if I no longer controlled her! One of the best elements of this particular show was the beautiful music that accompanied it – it really added another dimension to the whole performance. I must also mention the relationships that all the characters built up with one another over the weeks of rehearsals – by the time this show had ended I felt much more comfortable with the new members of Gold company.
Finally, I finished off my return to Yew Tree with a Festive Open Mic night. It’s probably been well over a year since I last performed in one of these, but I have to say everybody was as supportive as ever. Every act was greeted with a welcome round of applause, so even the most nervous of performers went on to do a brilliant performance.
Now I’m looking forward to what 2018 holds for Yew Tree. It’s going to be my last year with this theatre company, but I’m sure there is much excitement ahead still. For one, I plan on writing a performance myself for a group of actors – this should be great practise for my studying Creative Writing at university in September. And I guess for now I’d also better cherish every experience with Yew Tree, as time flies by so quickly.
Or at least 2017 did anyway.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

And the last blog for now although there maybe a couple later in the week - is Lucy who returned to us this year after a break and we’re very pleased she did...

2017- the year Donald Trump officially became president and the year I officially became a member of Yew Tree again... I know which one I'm happier about...

Anyway let's rewind back to January, when Black Company took on the daunting task of bringing to life a full length Shakespeare play. Baring in mind I hadn't picked up a script in over a year, it's safe to say my acting was rusty (so was my ability to socialise and generally be around people outside of my house, what can I say, being a mum is time consuming) but clearly Sarah had more confidence in me than I had in myself as she gave me the role of Lady Macbeth (I know, I couldn't believe it either). If you asked any female actor who their dream roles are chances are you'd hear "Lady Macbeth" more than once, so as you can imagine, excited as I was, taking on this part was nerve racking. I was the new girl feeling like I had to prove myself to a group of really talented people and I really wasn't sure I was up to it. Looking back now, knowing the amazing people at Black Company I obviously know there was no need to feel I had to prove anything as no one there has that kind of attitude. But alas, I was nervous. But fast forward a few weeks and all that had passed, I was making new friends and the fire inside me was being reignited. I felt at home, accepted, back where I belong. Not only was I getting to sit back and watch some ridiculously good actors, I was getting to work with them (shoutout to the Macbeth to my Lady Macbeth, Sam MG, who absolutely smashed it and inspired me raise my game to match him). We performed in June at the Hepworth and it was the most intense, rewarding performance I've had the pleasure to be a part of. Definitely the highlight of my Yew Tree year. 

In summer we had a break from the serious stuff and focused on our devising skills. Devising isn't my strong point but the workshops were definitely helpful in getting back into that creative mindset. 

Now we're into September, which brought a mix of emotions, sadness as we said goodbye to those who went off to uni, and excitement for the upcoming Christmas shows. I was also properly happy because Beth Mirfin was back and no one makes me shake my head in despair and laugh until I cry in equal measures in quite the same way. 

Black Company decided to go for a different take on the classic tale of A Christmas Carol, using the ghosts as our main inspiration. It was a piece about choices and making decisions and how everything we do impacts the future in one way or another. It was interesting and thought provoking and I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of it. 

Last one for me was Gold Company's Christmas show. I'm not usually a member of Gold, but due to other commitments the lovely Ellie was unable to make the show dates and so I volunteered to fill in and take on her role. Unlike the monochrome aesthetic of Black Company's show, Ella was loud and bright and full of colour! (No hate on the black and white look for Black Company, I was a big big fan) My character for this 1950s take on Cinderella was Lucille, a heartless, selfish, gold digger, and I'll be honest... I absolutely loved playing her. Because let's face it, it's always more fun to play a baddy! Gold Company welcomed me with open arms and I was blown away by their talent. 

And of course there was open mic night, a chance for everyone to get together, celebrate what we've achieved over the year, and enjoy the insane amount of musical talent the people of Yew Tree have in abundance. 

To be honest I just love Yew Tree. See ya next year guys!

Monday, 1 January 2018

Our next blogger is the very lovely Elliyah! Hope you’re enjoying this series of insights into YTYT if you want to catch up on the blog joy just scroll back...

Yewtree - where do I start?

I’ve been at Yewtree for just over a year now and I have to say I have loved every second of it!

I started at Sapphire company during workshops in which we did work on physical theatre and different genres of acting - quite the treat! We then started devising Hansel and Gretel which was my first ever yewtree performance! My first show and I was honoured to be given a lead role - Gretel. 

After that performance I was hooked and Sarah offered a place to me in Gold company, I’m not going to lie, at first I was terrified. It’s safe to say the nerves soon wore off as everyone there was so welcoming. As soon as I joined, the company were in the process of choosing a performance for later that year, and even though I just started they included me in that decision (something that had never happened at past drama company’s or at school even). Already, after only four months I felt more at home with Yewtree than anywhere else! 

From weekly workshops to Open Mic Nights, from rehearsals

to performances, every element of Yewtree is a delight and I am so happy to be a part of it!

From the very beginning Sarah has been there for me with open arms and I could not be more grateful for everything she has helped me do and overcome. 

I feel like I have become more confident and better than before in acting, performing and have become, in general, a better person. It has really brought me out of my shell.

All the friends that I’ve made there are so important to me too and I’m so glad that I met them all.

All in all Yewtree has had nothing but a positive impact on me and I love it and everyone there dearly.