National Theatre Connections festival

The National Theatre Connections festival is an annual event in which young people from year 7 to year 13 come together to act, direct and technically design a play specifically created for the festival. At Wollaston, we chose the play ‘Old Times’ by Molly Taylor. This play centres around a group of 18 year olds who find the past coming back to haunt them, forcing them to relive the memories of the tragedy that separated them at 13. As the lighting designer, Aaron was able to devise challenging and technically advanced lighting changes throughout the performance, distinctly creating ‘the past’, ‘the present’ and a hazy ‘space in between’ that really captured the nuances of the warping of memories through time.

In terms of characterisation, each character was assigned a specific colour to represent them, creating links between the older and younger versions of the same character. This play deals with heavy topics such as whether we can trust our own memory, injustices within the justice system and the complex issues surrounding child offenders. As cast members, we found this play particularly interesting, allowing us all to come together as a group to workshop our characters with our younger (or older) counterparts. I really enjoyed the connections (no pun intended) this allowed us to create across year groups and I am so grateful for the opportunity this gave us to make friends from younger years that would never have been possible without the Connections Festival.

The most exciting part of this process, however, was the actual ‘National Theatre Connections Festival’ day that took place during the Easter Holiday in April. We, along with two other theatre companies took our play to the Royal and Derngate Theatre in Northampton and performed in the ‘Underground’ performance space.  This was an unforgettable day that included a puppetry workshop, performing our play and watching the productions performed by the other groups that we met. The atmosphere was incredible, with each theatre group being so genuinely supportive of one another, making us even more sad that this will be our last performance (as we are both in year 13). This was an amazing experience and one we would highly recommend to anyone interested in drama.

Maddie Nakash and Molly Starkey in year 13