Kent Youth Theatre
I witnessed what I now consider to be the pinnacle of youth theatre productions. Both were truly inspirational.
I watched the play with great interest, as I knew it to be centered on the topical issue of refugees seeking asylum in the UK, a topic particularly relevant to us here in Kent.
We were greeted by the cast and shown to our seats as African Reggae music created a light and happy atmosphere.
The cast all sported black t-shirts with I AM AN ACTOR emblazoned in big white capital letters on the front. This signalled that “something completely different” was about to happen.
The stage was bare but for chairs positioned in a semi-circle, the open side available for the audience to peer in. Small props lay under and around the chairs.
The music faded as “an actor” took centre stage and told us about the plight of refugees in the country, setting the scene for this one particular story.
Music instantly blared as all the other actors took to the stage but stopping to wave at us at certain points – they were welcoming us to share the experience.
The chairs were for them, their root points, to where they returned following any scene in which they were involved.
The cast did not leave the stage for the entire play. It was a warm and friendly opening, which lulled us into easy comfort. I settled, and then witnessed a murder on an urban street; sudden; instantly shocking; powerful. It froze “like a snapshot” and the lead actor stepped out of the scene to introduce himself and the character he was playing.
This simple device, repeated throughout the performance, kept us somewhat detached from the story allowing us to watch and perhaps even make judgments as it unfolded. And unfold it did. in a fantastic display of stylised theatrical brilliance.
The cast worked as an incredible team, a breathtaking ensemble of young vital performers.
The play ran for an hour, but it seemed half that time. It was at the finish as I sat stunned by the performances of these young people both on stage and in the control room, that I decided to return the next night.
It was even better than before. I am not sure how it could have been better, but it was.
The entire audience was mesmerised for that same hour, involved and yet detached, crying but not sure why, stunned by everything they had witnessed.
Some stood in tears as they applauded the cast. It was a moving experience. All theatre should move people.
This was a remarkable production. I am so pleased that the Marlowe, in its wisdom to encourage young performers through their doors, invited Kent Youth Theatre.