As is our yearly tradition, today's blog tells the story of Three our National Connections production from the point of view of the actors - a talented and brilliant group of young people who produced a piece of theatre that genuinely entertained their audience...
As the lights went down on our performance of Three, there were many things passing through my mind: predominantly, frustration at the power cut cancelling our show. As the lights went down on our performance of Three for the second time, what went through my mind instead was the gratification of performance I have been chasing since I first started acting, gratitude to Sarah, and to the kind staff of the Crucible and National Theatre, and a desperate need for a kebab and some sleep. I'm glad to have been able to be a part of it all.
There’s an old saying that’s a bit of a cliché that says “it’s impossible to describe … in just a paragraph.” Now while I’m not usually one for clichés this one does actually apply to connections. But that doesn’t mean I won’t try my darndest. This was my first time doing connections and to be honest, we couldn’t have been doing a better play. Well at least not one that would accommodate my selfish need for not only laughs but also a play that doesn’t involve too much of me doing hard exercise which is always a bonus. Now that I’ve got myself indulgent twaddle out of the way I may as well talk about the actual experience of connections, and it was by all accounts an amazing experience. It was probably my first taste of putting so many hours into a play and even sacrificing a large chunk of my holiday for it. You may ask “was it all worth it?” and the only answer to that question is a resounding yes, the sheer enjoyment and experience you get from taking part in a nationwide drama event is such that I would give up all of my holidays (maybe not Easter though, chocolate eggs are pretty important). So in conclusion to a pretty haphazard paragraph, connections has been one of the most brilliant experiences I’ve had with Yewtree and with acting in general so if you want to do connections, do it. And if you’re just a casual reader of this blog then take it from me, connections is pretty great.
So for the past 2 years I have taken part in National Theatre Connections, each time being such a delight, with both plays giving me new ideas and techniques for my acting. This years “Three” by Harriet Braun seems like the typical rom com, but this comes with a twist of inner voices telling the characters inner thoughts! I can say that the script was new for me as not many of the plays I have participated in have been involved with comedy as such so this was both a challenge and a lot of fun. It involves three teenage stories, along with a hilarious narrator which left a lot of the cast in stiches for the majority of rehearsals as well as our audiences at performances. Playing an inner voice myself, it was definitely good to see the thoughts of a character that is completely different to your own personality. I played Lena’s inner voice along with Emily beside me as Lena. What we focused on was Lena’s different personalities from her status at school and her own insecurities in her private life. We discussed that my acting came from Lena’s mind, whereas Emily acted from the heart. Both working together to create the perfect character of Lena. It was good to see the different ways she thought and interacted with other characters, Jamie in particular. What I figured about Lenas inner voice is that her first thoughts are all judgemental, without any sort of kindness of such. As we know from the script that her main priority is her “cool” boyfriend Daz, who appears to not show as much love and care for Lena as she does for him. Although he is never introduced to the script, the audience and actors get the impression of Daz being the typical heart breaker, which is partly why Lena appears to show no interest in Jamie to begin with.
As well as being the voice inside of Lena’s head, what also made it fun was the transitions for props between scenes. We allowed it to be as natural as possible, adding bits of humour as well as contact with the narrator. As this was a new style of piece for me, what also made it different was the prop settings that we got to work with for scenes. This included wine bottles, rugs that were similar to grass and a specially made white fence for my scenes in particular. This for me helped to create a more realistic setting and didn’t make it feel as though they were props.
Our first performance took place at The Cluntergate centre in Horbury, which I admit felt the most nervous. I now know that it was a success! The positive feedback from our audiences was incredible which then gave myself as well as the cast confidence for our other performances. The different places where we performed also helped me confidence wise to be a lot braver and to attempt new movements on stage. Our second performance took place at Crofton academy where we performed equally as well.
Our final performance took place at the Crucible theatre in Sheffield, and after the dramas that took us all by surprise on the day of our expected performance we smashed it on Monday night! As well as feeling exceptionally proud of my cast, I also took pride for the play of “Zero for the young dudes” performed by CAPA. Their gripping performance literally left me at the edge of my seat the entire time and left me with so many questions afterwards their show had finished. Now that “Three” is officially finished, it hasn’t quite sank in yet that another year of Connections has finished. It is easy to say that I will for sure be signing up for the next year’s performance! Of course, our show would have never been as successful without the fabulous Sarah helping us to gain what we achieved out of performing, as well as learning new acting techniques that will be useful in the future. From working on this play, it has given me whole new experiences which I will be able to add in for future shows. Overall, the play does seem simple in some ways but for myself I can class it as one of the most difficult plays ive performed, but certainly one of the most enjoyable!
This year was my first time doing Connections, and let me say it was not a disappointing experience. After having it bigged up for years, I was really excited to finally take part in one. There were many things I loved about the experience but, the overriding highlight was working with a group of amazingly talented people to create a piece of just plain lovely theatre. The play on the surface was simple and very rom-com, but in great Yew Tree fashion, we uncovered the truth behind the seemingly easy going text of Braun’s play. I think what I really liked about the play was that it was a piece of text about young people for young people. It was interesting to play scenes the correlate so closely to all of our everyday lives. I think it brought a real sense of honesty to the show. Subsequently a thought provoking and touching performance was made. Thank you to all the wonderful cast members who made the experience so enjoyable and Sarah for being the amazing director who helped us find the integrity and vision of the play. Oh! And thank you to the National Theatre for letting us perform in the absolutely snazzy studio at the Crucible. Here’s hoping next year’s performance will create even more wonderful memories!
Ah, Connections. As an experience, this is probably the most rewarding piece of acting I’ve done at a young age; seeing dedication pay off is always satisfying, but performing ‘Three’ was a transcendental experience for me this year. There are some people who’ve done five, six Connections plays, and I envy that of them – this was my second and last, but I’d jump at the opportunity to do an infinite amount more of them. Performing in Sheffield was obviously a delight (much like last year’s performance in Kendal was), but it was also staggering to me, as I sat and witnessed every single member of the cast reach a level of acting I haven’t seen before. Spending six months on a play, scenes can seem over-rehearsed, boring, tiring, unnatural, but in Sheffield I saw the spontaneity, the performance, the sheer acting ability that makes an unmissable show. It’s given me faith in acting and such proudness of our Connections cast that ‘Three’ will live on with me forever. I just hope I can put on such a performance in the House of Commons some day. Love, your favourite manbun.
The thing I'm going to be taking away from connections with me is, definitely all the more technical things like diction and projection, but also friendship and learning to adapt to roles to make them fit with others, the experience has been eye opening and made me realise how much I want to focus on acting in the future, it was definitely worth all the time, effort and stress!
So this has been my 3rd year of connections and, once again, it has brought on many new challenges to develop.
Back in November, when auditions were originally held, I was lucky enough to get the part of Lena (The one I wanted too). The whole idea of having an inner voice to each character interested me in a way (especially with having mine be Eve) and I thought it brought something different to the play. However, this idea was definitely underestimated on how hard it would be to portray convincingly to an audience. Something clicked for Eve and I before our Sheffield Crucible performance, something we hadn't thought of before. With us playing the same character, you would think that our thoughts/feelings/actions would be identical yet we figured this wasn't the case as we discovered that Lena herself led with her heart yet Lena's Inner Voice was solely led by her head. This made Lena's final decision to go chase after Jamie a decision done by herself, then the inner voice realising that this is what she needs so accepted it.
In many ways for me, Connections 2017 has been the most challenging yet as there were many different challenges (and I'm not just talking about Sheffield's power cut). For example, Lena (on paper) seems like your stereotypical "it" girl at school however I soon discovered (with the help of the inner voice) that she goes way deeper than that but her social status at the time is more important to her. Also the fact that there were two people on stage constantly that I couldn't see: Lena's Inner Voice and Jamie's Inner Voice so getting round the logistics of that was interesting.
All in all I have throughly enjoyed Connections 2017 and can't wait for next year!
Well what can i say?
This is my 3rd year doing connections and each year something new gets brought to the table. But the main difference this year compared to all the other years was that there was no kendal. Anyone who has done connections knows how special 1 place can be. However Sheffield brought memories which I think would live with us forever...
"Three" was such a joy to be part mainly because it wasn't about 'War and politics'. The play benefited us as a cast because no joke we are a hilarious bunch of people. For me the character of the narrator really gave me the opportunity in to make a fun and enjoyable character. This was defiantly a challenge as i tend to always be the bad guy or bully for reason which I'll never know. The amount of fun i had being able to play a character cared about peoples attention and always wanted to be in the spotlight was a joy .... hmm sounds like someone i know. To be honest i loved being there boss out of everyone like we established near the end of the process i was Jesus and everyone else my 12 disciples. The whole experience of playing the narrator was a challenge to learn all those lines.
(2 hours before connections week started) So i was sitting in front of the telly watching Jeremy Kyle and my mum walks in and shes all like "shouldn't you really be learning your lines". Connections week is also a massive highlight to the week, eating cheesy chips everyday from nice nosh was the way forward. All the character building work was so helpful especially as i never had any socialisation with other characters. So a story which defiantly needs to be told is performance day. Friday 31st march was our performance day and well it turned out to be a total black out. Shoutout to Tom Osborne who decided he wasn't just going to be in "Three" but also "zero for the young dudes" with CAPA college. So after a technical rehearsal which got everyone so excited and the pre show buzz had finally arrived there a power cut and the show gets cancelled so were all so annoyed. Me and Alice had being walking around Sheffield since 10 o'clock lost but there always a positive to come out of a bad situation. We decided to have a spontaneous party, nothing better than a BBQ, few drinks and people you love singing along to the Three playlist. Helena using a chicken wing as a microphone must be the funniest thing i've ever seen.
Being part of connections 2016-17 gave me opportunities to explore a different sort of character going out of my comfort zone. Sarah has definitely helped me to be a better actor throughout the experience. Im going to miss performing with everyone else but mainly the people who's last connections it will be. Unlucky for them i cant wait for next year and to anyone thinking "should i do connection?" The answers is YES. BEST EXPERIENCE IN MY TIME AT YEW TREE
Comedy is really hard. As silly as it sounds, that's the thing I'm taking away from connections 2016/17. I think there's an assumption that comedy is easy, and that if you just read the lines with some enthusiasm, you'll have no trouble putting on a great show. And as much as I'd like that to be the case, it turns out that creating a play that's both grounded in truth and yet as funny as it was intended to be is a real test of acting ability. It is testament to the fantastic cast of Three, that they were able to pull of such a tricky task, and I couldn't be prouder of each of them. They've all been on such a journey, and the leap in ability has been astronomical. We've worked together on this project for a good few months now, and I couldn't really ask for anyone better to put on a show with. Special props to my man Sam Mandi-ghomi, as he's the one who's head I've had to live in for the whole process, and he has made that a thoroughly pleasant experience, and as much as it pains me to say it, I have learnt a lot from him and working together on this with him. So yeah, thanks for that mate. All in all, the thing that I think is so important about connections, is that I've done 5 with ytyt, and I'm still learning as much as I did in the first.
So this years Connections was the first Connections I have done and I have to say that it was such a great experience, I was pretty nervous about the audition process as I had never done anything like that before, but lucky I managed it and got to be in the play. The play was a challenge at first because we had no idea how we were going to play the inner voices and if they were allowed to use eye contact with their character, but it was a fun experience, the fact that we performed for a local audience at Cluntergate in Ossett and then at Crofton high school, we then went to perform at the Sheffield Crucible Theatre with the Capa cast and both shows were amazing, I am looking forward to doing Connections again and I cannot wait to see which play we choose.
Connections this year was an odd but fab experience I joined the group late and still got to feel part of the amazing team and be proud of what we created. So sad it's over and I don't get to work with these amazing people. Ly all
Connections 2017 is over and despite the fact that we haven't gone to Kendal this year, the experience still hasn't failed to give me an overwhelming sense of achievement (probably due to the minor set back that came in the form of a power cut on performance day...) However, we still managed to smash our final performance and seeing everyone so pleased with how it went reminded me why I do this. Connections isn't just about one performance, it isn't about how many people come to see our show, it isn't about who can be the best, it's about bonding with an amazing group of people and entertaining an audience through several shows and managing to improve every single time which, in turn, allows us to mature as actors and take away such a valuable experience that we'll never forget. I'm so proud of everyone, bring on connections 2018!!