found in the forest Connections Festival

Forest of Dean Youth Theatre to perform at the National for Connections Festival

A Forest of Dean Youth Theatre  group has been selected as one of just 10 to present their performances on London’s South Bank in the National Theatre’s Connections Festival.

The Found in the Forest youth theatre, based in Gloucestershire’s Forest of Dean, who up until now have rarely performed outside of Cinderford and Coleford, will be treading the boards of the newly christened Dorfman Theatre (formerly the Cottesloe) and waving the flag for rural arts groups on Friday, July 3, 2015.

The youth theatre is subsidised by AIR in G (Arts in Rural Gloucestershire) and Gloucestershire College.

Michelle Cant, head of communications at the college said:  “We’re delighted to hear that the Found in the Forest Theatre group have been selected to perform in such a prestigious venue in London.

“Three current Gloucestershire College students, Jake, Erin and Liam form part of the talented group who have already performed this piece at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff – we cannot wait to see their next performance! Congratulations to everybody involved.”

Ed O’Driscoll, executive director of AIR in G said: “We’re all completely over the moon for them. This could be life changing; an experience they will all remember the rest of their lives. What’s really great is that they truly deserve to be there. They are an exceptionally talented group of young actors who could all have exciting professional careers in theatre should they so wish. I can’t wait to be there waving the flag for the Forest and cheering them on.”

Jamie Lee speaking for himself and co-director Elise Heaven said:
“Taking part in the NT Connections scheme has been an incredibly ambitious, creative and rewarding experience for all involved. It’s provided a platform on which to showcase the amazing hard work by a group of really talented young people. We are all looking forward to putting the Forest of Dean firmly on the theatrical map!”

The piece they are presenting is an original play called ‘Hood’ by playwright Katherine Chandler.

Hood’s Mam has run off with a ‘bacon licking vegetarian’ and her Dad spends his days and nights lost in a chair, feeding his addiction to ‘The Waterboys’. There’s no money left, there’s five struggling kids to feed and interfering Father Tuck just won’t let them be. But our modern day hero, Robyn Hood is determined to keep her family together, whatever it takes.

Katherine Chandler is a Welsh playwright who has had plays produced by National Theatre Wales, Bristol Old Vic, Sherman Cymru, Theatr Nan’Og, Spectacle Theatre and Dirty Protest. Her play Before it Rains won the Writers’ Guild Playwright award at the Theatre Critics of Wales Awards.

Her adaptation of Terry Jones’ fairy tales The Silly Kings was produced and performed by National Theatre Wales in Europe’s largest Spiegel tent, in the grounds of Cardiff Castle. Her new play Bird won the 2013 Bruntwood judges’ prize and is now in development with the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester

The cast is made up of: Hood: Erin Tanswell: 16, Tuck: Jake Gwilliam: 16, Al: Sean Kilty: 15, Will: Ben Kirkwood: 15 Muz: Laurie Cousins: 13, Nas: Liam Jones: 17, John: Rhys Jones: 17.

School and youth theatre companies from Cambridgeshire, Canterbury, Chester, East London, Gloucestershire, Kildare, Peterborough and St Albans will perform at this year’s National Theatre Connections Festival, which will run from 1 – 6 July.

Ten new plays for young performers aged 13 – 19 by both established and emerging playwrights have been premiered across the UK by 270 school and youth theatre companies in 27 leading regional theatres; ten of those companies have been invited to perform their productions at the National’s Olivier and Dorfman Theatres.

Next year, the annual festival of new plays for young performers will celebrate its 21st anniversary with 500 companies reviving great plays from past years.

Connections will celebrate its 21st anniversary in 2016 by doubling the number of companies taking part. Some 500 youth theatre and school companies will perform ten outstanding plays drawn from more than 150 new works commissioned and premiered by Connections since its inception, by writers including Simon Armitage, James Graham, Katori Hall, Jackie Kay, Bryony Lavery, Patrick Marber and Mark Ravenhill.

Alice King-Farlow, director of learning at the National Theatre said: “Connections has revolutionised the landscape for youth theatre over the 21 years of its existence, creating an extraordinary body of over 150 specially commissioned scripts for young performers by leading dramatists.

“Teenagers also get the opportunity to be involved in all aspects of theatremaking, from set design to marketing.

“Over 60,000 young people have taken part in Connections over the years, with audiences of 600,000 all over the UK.”


(from a press release)