Monday, 3 July 2017

Sam has blogged about our visit from Laerlingan!

With a title as a Norwegian Jazz/Swing/Folk Band, Laerlingen have always sounded like something not only from Yew Tree folklore, but of actual folklore as well. They’ve been ranted and raved about by Yew Tree members throughout my two year tender, but I never anticipated just how downright fun a night with the band could actually be. My first meeting with the band came through their incomparable Artistic Director, Rolf. Being the latest performer to arrive to the pre-show rehearsal, I was met with his wry humour: ‘We did this perfectly earlier, so if it goes wrong it’s your fault’. I laughed it off and took it in my stride, then proceeded to – almost in a scripted fashion – get the song wrong. His faux-stern look was enough to humble my performance mode, but a quiet word of assurance from the man which, I might add he had no obligation to do, set me straight for the real performance. In a free ten minutes before the show, we decided to socialise with the Laerlingen crew, who were delightfully happy to oblige us in perfect English. Whilst, as Yew Tree, we regard ourselves as somewhat talented, the irony that we shared a room with people with the ability to play multiple instruments and speak multiple languages was not lost on us. Whilst humbling, it was also enthusing, and set us up for a fascinating night. Now, I can’t speak for everyone here, but I’ve never seen a Norwegian Jazz/Swing/Folk band perform live before, so my expectations were practically non-existent. And saying that, my expectations were absolutely blown away by the sheer talent on show not only by Laerlingen but also by Yew Tree’s very own, an interchanging of swing songs and monologues centred on the topic of music; it was heartfelt, it was beautiful. But the emotional side was happily juxtaposed by Laerlingen in my favourite moments of the night; immersive songs which required audience participation. Look, we’re performers, we love the limelight, and any opportunity – be it a monologue or a guided shaking of our hips to trombones, saxophones, guitars and drums. MC’d and led exquisitely by Rolf, the audience followed his directions effortlessly, and what resulted was one of the most enjoyable nights I’ve experienced in a while. I’m not one to turn down an opportunity to perform, and my own performance was partnered with John and Tom. Not three days prior had the Foo Fighters shut down Glastonbury with a stellar headline performance, and so we decided that it was only right to expose them for the frauds they are and perform their smash hit, ‘Everlong’, the way it should be. Whilst I let the other two battle about who could be our Dave Grohl, I myself was revelling in an opportunity to channel my inner Liam Gallagher, but perhaps with less of a swagger. Ultimately, this performance night was a hoot and a half. The people at Laerlingen, on top of being insanely talented, were down to earth, decent people who made performing alongside them a joy to behold. Rolf’s ideas run deep and his mind will always be working, and I for one can’t wait to see what our next collaboration is. Sam Mandi-Ghomi

Friday, 30 June 2017

Lovely Toni has blogged about Macbeth...


On Sunday afternoon, Black Company performed their full length Shakespeare, Macbeth, in the Calder at the Hepworth. For those unfamiliar with the space, this is the bottom floor of an old mill by the waterfront just next to the Hepworth playground. It’s hard to imagine that Yew Tree could pick a better setting. The stage was set against the back wall with the windows blacked out, other than the ones right behind the stage allowing three beams of light to flood into the room setting a dark and authentic tone. This also created silhouettes of the actors throughout the play, fitting to the eeriness of the witches and adding to the haunting nature of the cold blooded murders in the play. Barring the Romeo and Juliet film with Leonardo DiCaprio, I’d never seen a full length Shakespeare tragedy (despite studying Lady Macbeth for GCSE English). This was mainly because I’d stereotyped them as being harder to follow and a bit duller than comedies but Black Company have changed my outlook completely as I was drawn into each character and the plot more than I have been in any other Shakespeare I remember seeing. Macbeth was played by Sam in a way that took the audience on a journey of sympathy when he was manipulated into murder to complete condemnation and hostility for his betrayal to Banquo. Lucy’s portrayal of Lady Macbeth’s decent into guilt-induced madness was also memorable as she herself appeared to become a puppet of the witches as they surrounded her and forced her into constant hand washing of the murders she had overseen. The portrayal of the weird sisters by Hannah, Helena and Ellie ensured a constant eerie reminder of the play’s tragic ending. The witches were on stage much of the time, seen to be observing and manipulating the characters. Their use of voodoo dolls was very effective as whenever a death occurred offstage, the head of a doll would be plucked off; seeming that the actions were not just controlled by the characters but that their fate was already sealed and controlled by the witches. The performance lasted just under 2 hours which in itself shows the sheer amount of work that had gone into it. The epic physical theatre battle scene at the start of the play set the tone well, showing how hard each cast member had worked. Learning lines and performing any play for two hours is an achievement; Learning two hours’ worth of Shakespeare and delivering it as though old English is spoken fluently and lyrically by everyone, every day, as the cast did, was more than impressive. Not to mention that many were also tackling A-levels, GCSEs, mocks exams and other end of the academic year deadlines (- there even some year 6 SATs!). So Macbeth has possibly been my favourite plays I’ve seen at Yew Tree, and definitely the most impressive! I hope everyone involved is immensely proud of themselves for the incredible production they put on. Thank you Black Company for a great Sunday afternoon and a new found appreciation for Shakespearean tragedies!

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Lucy played Lady Macbeth brilliantly in our recent production and she's blogged about the experience...

So as most of you know Black Company have just finished doing Macbeth, and I know I'm biased but honestly we absolutely smashed it! We started back in January with a workshop/audition session where if we wanted to be considered for Lady Macbeth or Macbeth we had to learn one of their speeches. I decided to throw myself in at the deep end and learn the monologue for Lady Macbeth, not thinking by any stretch of the imagination that I'd actually get it, but by some miracle I managed it, and to say I underestimated what a challenge that role would be is a massive understatement. Lady Macbeth goes on such a journey through the play and the difference between the manipulative, hard as nails woman you see at the beginning and the broken and defeated woman she is after her decent into madness is huge. And I'm pretty sure my first few attempts at portraying that were pretty laughable, so thanks to Sarah and Black Company for not losing faith in me! After lots of tears and a few "Nope. Can't do it. I'm messaging Sarah" 's to my mum I decided to get a grip and just throw myself into it and it was So. Much. Fun. I pushed myself more than I have in any other role I've ever played and I'm so glad I did as it was THE most rewarding experience. Taking on a full length Shakespeare play is such a massive task and to say most of the cast pulled the performances they did out of the bag whilst also juggling a million and one exams is insane, I'm absolutely in awe of you all. The talent of the people in Black Company is unreal and I'm so grateful I got to share a stage with you. Thank you so much for welcoming me back home to Yew Tree with such open arms, you're all fab and I love you all. I could not be happier that I came back!

Monday, 26 June 2017

Ellie has blogged about Bassett

For the last few months gold company have been been rehearsing and putting together a show called Bassett, a past connections show. It's a show about some year 11 students who have been locked in a classroom by their citizenship teacher and one particular student, Leo, takes it much more harshly than the rest and ends up spray painting a wall and piling people on top of each other. Rehearsal wise we started off the first few weeks preparing the short 10 minute opening of it for the 21st of may, we made sure it was a strong audience worthy show and it definitely payed off, after the showcase on the 21st we started to focus on later parts of the play, creating the right atmosphere and building the characters. Thinking about action and reaction, feeling the emotion rather than just doing the emotion and it definitely built the show and made it much stronger, this also helped us create the right feel for the ending- where Leo goes nuts. After months of rehearsals show day came and if I do say so myself it went amazing, we got loads of amazing reviews from the audience, one of those being my grandad wanting a part 2, which unfortunately we cannot give, because we're moving onwards and upwards into preparing for our Christmas show! I'm so sad it's now over because I thoroughly enjoyed creating Bassett but I'm so excited to start something new!

Sunday, 9 April 2017

NT Connections 2017 "Three"

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...

John
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.

Jacob
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.

Eve

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!

Helena
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!

Sam
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.

Ellie
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!

Emily
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!
Dec
Well what can i say?

"HELLO"

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

Tom
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.

Beth
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.

Hollie
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

Alice
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!!



Monday, 20 February 2017

A review of our NT Connections performance of Three by Toni Stephenson

There are few better ways to spend a Sunday afternoon than a good Rom Com; Love Actually, Bridget Jones, and anything starring Colin Firth or Hugh Grant. Watching the Connections cast perform Three was essentially a live version of my favourite weekend pass time (made even better by the simple fact that it was Yew Tree).

The humbling story of six teenagers becoming three couples was made engaging and comical by the presence of their "inner voices" played by different actors. This made for interesting viewing, watching a pair of actors play the same character in slightly different ways; one more revealing than their counterpart, as none of the other characters could hear what they said. An example of this was Emily and Eve playing Lena, where Eve, portraying Lena's inner thoughts, was more harsh to her love interest Jamie for being unpopular, whereas Emily's version only expressed Lena's reluctance through her actions, which revealed to the audience something about Lena's insecurity, rather than seeming rude, which is what might be assumed by the audience without having heard her thoughts. Similarly, Jacob and John's partnership comically personified the conflicts that people often have in their minds during an awkward situation; in this case a failing blind date.

The narrator played by Dec was a treat and the small interactions with the audience throughout the play were part of what made the stories so accessible and relatable.

Something also commendable was each actors ability to look through the inner voices as though they were not there but only in their heads. I imagine it would be difficult as an actor having a conversation with someone who is not supposed to be a physical being, since a lot is based on action and reaction. However, cast did this brilliantly.

One final thing which deserves a shout out is the set which created a much needed hint of summer in February (a small reference for the Dan Stevens fans out there). They were neat, simple and efficient. It really felt as though a small garden had been created with the green rugs and miniature fence. Similarly, a canal side bench was transformed into a hotel room with a single throw and some cushions. All was smoothly arranged by the cast ensemble in a way that gave the play the personalised Yew Tree stamp.

All that is left to say is that the hard work of everyone involved payed off. Each of the three storylines were performed in a way that gripped the audience. The cast made us laugh with the characters, cringe with them and root for them all to find a happy ending with one another... Thank goodness Katie X was a diva and late on stage at the concert!

Saturday, 18 February 2017

John a valued and excellent member of our cast of "Three"

It's often suggested that the best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in it - that is, should you want to learn French, move to Par-ee and parlez Francais. The idea roughly extends to just about any hobby; for example, after a week locked in a room with nothing but a guitar, I should imagine you'd be able to ring out a vaguely tuneful Smoke on the Water. There doesn't, however, appear to be a means of becoming an actor via immersion. Locking yourself in a room and maintaining character for a week sounds more like a horrific psychology experiment than a means of learning. The closest reasonable analogue for an amateur actor then, would be something along the lines of Connections week. Every year, the National Theatre takes scripts from established writers and distributes them to youth theatre groups up and down the UK, in a scheme called Connections. At Yew Tree, once we have one of these scripts in hand, we will hash out a rough version of our show in preparation for a week of intensive rehearsal in the February half-term - more snappily known as Connections week. Serving almost as a boot camp in preparation for our local performances, lines learned and scenes blocked, we polish and obsess, and practise and revise, and emerge as young actors at the top of our game. The beauty of this practice is not in the end show, beautiful as it may be. In the sense laid down by JFK, it is less a matter of what the actors do for the show, but what this show does for the actors. I write this the night before our performance of Three by Harriet Braun. In roughly 20 hours, I will be stepping off stage (to applause, hopefully) and going for some fresh air. This does mark some personal significance, incidentally. It was after the performance of Hacktivists in 2015 that a few friends and I, on a whim, asked Sarah if we could join Yew Tree. Tomorrow therefore marks my rough two-year anniversary of deciding to try my hand at acting, and if I may, I'd like to use this to segue into a slightly more personal take on the whole experience. Some people collect coins, others fancy philately, but I like to think of myself as collecting hobbies. There are countless instruments, half-finished paintings, watercolours, acrylics, sketching sets, electronic components and notebooks that I can see littered around my room from where I write this. Most of my hobbies get left by the wayside after a few weeks of obsessive interest in them. Since I started acting, however, I've not passed up a single opportunity to do so. The following, to the best of my understanding, is why. The reason there is no way to learn to act by immersion, and the reason I keep finding myself coming back to it, is because acting does not reward the obsessive, or the perfectionist - it punishes them. Try to improve by rehearsing excessively, and become overrehearsed and lack spontaneity. Rehearse the bare minimum to preserve spontaneity; you will miss a great many dramatic possibilities. Analyse the script all you may, but if you intellectualise too much you will lose emotion, but act without thought and you'll lack understanding. You may throw yourself at this brick wall until you are at the brink of walking out, cursing nitpicky directors, bad writing and impossible characters but the barrier to a better performance is, and always will be, psychological. If you want to be a better actor, the answer lies at least in part within your psyche. Therein lies why I love acting. Two years ago I found the creative outlet I needed, and which has shaped me. No other pursuit has forced me to so closely examine who I am, or to be more self-aware. This week has demanded I allow myself to experiment, that I overcome a fear of falling flat to find interpretations of scenes that I hadn't considered. I have been dragged out of my own head, asked to consciously be unconscious of my thoughts and opinions and react in real time to what happens in front of me, to give greater credence to my intuition and emotion in a way that I could not do before. Intelligence and empathy, analysis and emotion, confidence and self-criticism are all required in equal measure to act. Qualities we all hope to possess have been earned, through hard work, by actors, and pursuing them is surely a constructive way of spending a half term. To summarise in a pleasantly smart manner: acting builds character. I consider myself fortunate to have been able to pursue a passing interest in acting to this point. I am fortunate that institutions like the National Theatre run schemes like Connections, and fortunate that groups like Yew Tree exist for people like me on weeks like this. This string of good fortune can be traced back directly to deciding on a whim to see Hacktivists that day. And so, should you happen to come across a show near where you live, I advise you to go see it. You never know where it'll take you.