Youth Theatre and Theatre Thinkers' member Niamh Atkinson looks forward to I Am England

As a member of Theatre Thinkers, I was extremely excited to hear that the Connections Festival was going to be returning to Derby Theatre. I helped out last year and found the whole process really enjoyable, but this year was bigger and better. I attended three workshops: contemporary dance, audition/monologue technique and lighting design. I thoroughly enjoyed all three but the audition one in particular, as I will soon be entering my second year of college and beginning to look at monologues for drama school auditions. All of the feedback we received from these workshops was very positive and I hope that each person went away with an experience of something that they may not have tried before or with a bit of extra knowledge.

Another thing that I found so great about Connections was meeting and interacting with such a vast range of talented young people! Every single performer was amazing and, despite some plays being the same, each show brought so much originality to the stage. I can’t forget the talented singers who played in between shows and the wonderful “Shakespeare Workout” that had me in stitches (and with a stitch!).

Overall, I loved being a part of the Connections Team for the second year and I would really recommend that people joined the Theatre Thinkers as it’s a great way to develop organisational skills and help out with such a brilliant week!

As soon as Connections ended, I then began our intense half term rehearsals for the 14-16s Youth Theatre production I Am England, which is showing on the main stage towards the end of July. This will be my third production since joining Derby Theatre Youth Theatre in 2013 and I feel as though this year’s is going to be the best one yet. Everyone works really well as an ensemble, so rehearsals are productive as well as professional. At the moment the main focus is sorting out the chorus scenes, as they’re so crucial to the main theme of the piece and need to be executed perfectly in order to get an important message across. We’ve also been analysing and exploring our characters: their personality, what they want from life, how they move, their placing in society etc. I’ve found it really interesting to explore a person that could potentially exist, as the piece is set a generation ahead from ourselves.

Without giving too much away, I truly believe that this production is so relevant to our society and big political changes that could be starting in just a few weeks’ time. It follows a group of people through a divided society, from politicians to protestors and how their lives differ. We did a workshop with the playwright, David Lane, who helped us to picture this ‘world’ that he had created and its inhabitants.

I’ve really enjoyed the rehearsal process so far, as I am not only getting to perform in a really intriguing piece, but I’m learning so much about important topics along the way too. I can’t wait to see how the final production turns out!

Click here to find out more about I Am England