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Photo: Marc Brenner


Welcome to Flood Town

W

elcome to the Noël Coward Theatre for this evening’s performance of Flood Town presented by MGCfutures’ Youth Theatre. MGCfutures is a registered charity that enables young people to develop a greater understanding of - and passion for - the theatre. At its core exist a number of key activities such as education initiatives, training for young directors and designers and an access programme that allows young people to come to the theatre either for free or at very low prices. Central to this activity is a website dedicated to offering essential information to anyone wishing to consider one of the many specialised jobs that exist within the theatre industry. The other major initiative of MGCfutures has been the formation of a Youth Theatre to run alongside our first season of work here at the Noël Coward Theatre. A group of over 20 dedicated young people aged between 15 and 25 have met every Tuesday for over a year and responded to the work we have been presenting on our stage. They’ve also collaborated with ten older participants recruited through Age UK London, making the group truly intergenerational. Under the leadership of Dominic Francis and Samantha Lane they have engaged with key industry practitioners as well as going on theatre trips and immersing themselves in other related activities. They have shown themselves to be a brilliant team of focused individuals, many of whom are determined to be theatre makers in the future. Tonight they present their final performance together as part of MGCfutures and I’m sure you join us in wishing them all well for whatever lies ahead.

Michael Grandage Artistic Director

James Bierman Executive Producer


THE COMPANY

VERONICA ALOESS “Seeing my first column go up on The Stage website for the first time was my proudest moment in the MGCfutures’ Youth Theatre.”

THERESA AUGUSTE “I really enjoyed acting as part of the clock at the Noël Coward Theatre, and learning from the younger members.”

TASHA BRANDON “Walking onto the stage and looking out at the audience for the first time was incredible.”

PETER CHICKEN “It’s great what a theatre group can accomplish when everyone is motivated to better themselves.”

ESMONDE COLE “Being given the chance to get an insight into the mind of a great writer such as John Logan was amazing.”

BEN COOK “The moment when the curtain lifted with us standing behind it at the Noël Coward is one that I will never forget.”

THOMAS DENNIS “This has been a perfect opportunity to explore ideas, develop and grow as a performer and theatre maker.”

BARNY DOAK “I’ve enjoyed participating in this group of vastly different ages, all united by a shared love of theatre.”

RACHEL DOUGLAS “I’ve always enjoyed watching plays, but it’s taken me nearly 75 years to realise I could actually be on stage!”

AMY HACKETT “Performing on a West End stage is a dream come true. My internship with the company has helped me enormously.”

KURBAN HAJI “It was amazing to walk on stage and have such a large audience applauding for us.”

MARC HAUGHTON “For me the standout moment of this experience was the audience’s applause - electric!”

SHAUN HOLDEN “It’s great seeing young people realise that if they work hard they can realise their dreams.”

ALICE HOPE “It has been incredible to work so closely with such talented people, both our professional mentors and our peers.”

SHIVANI JASWAL “To stand hand in hand with all the amazing people I had met on a West End stage was amazing.”

CANSU KURNAZ “My best moment as a member of the Youth Theatre was when I went on stage at the theatre for the very first time.”


PHILIPPA LAWFORD “Michael made everything so clear directing a scene with us that he made me want to direct.”

DANIEL MAIR “I’ve made lifelong friends who would have been so difficult to meet without having this Youth Theatre in common.”

ELLA SADE McLEOD “The Youth Theatre is always the highlight of my week - seeing my wonderful, dysfunctional Tuesday Family.”

BAKER MUKASA “After our first show the whole cast of The Cripple of Inishmaan came backstage to congratulate us on our performance. Inspiring!”

FUNMIBI OGUNLESI “Belarus Free Theatre showing theatre isn’t just entertainment - it’s a means of survival.”

BRIDGET RANDOLPH “Working with the other members of MGCfutures’ Youth Theatre has been a fantastic experience.”

OLIVIA SAWBRIDGE “The opportunity to learn from industry professionals and go to rehearsals has been immense.”

JOE SHELLARD “Being mentored in theatre marketing has been a brilliant experience to be involved in.”

LESLIE SMITH “Despite the vast age gap, everyone is very friendly and helpful at MGCfutures.”

TOBY SMITH “I enjoyed listening to the laugh a joke I wrote got. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have my play on a West End stage.”

MARY STEENSMA “I was amazed I could actually perform on a West End stage and get laughter and applause!”

KERRISE STEWART “Closely observing and taking part in Michael’s rehearsal was a highlight of my year.”

GWEN SKULL “Much to my surprise I realised that I could make people laugh, which was wonderful.”

BARBARA VAN DOREN “Going to all five plays in the current season was just the icing on the cake to a great year!”

ERIN WITTON “I will take away from this year the friends that I have made and the many ways they have improved me.”

ALED WILLIAMS “Bonding with the group and feeling us gradually become a cohesive working unit has been joyous.”


PRESENTS

FLOOD

TOWN THE COMPANY

BY TOBY SMITH

Directors

Designers

THOMAS DENNIS PHILIPPA LAWFORD DANIEL MAIR BAKER MUKASA

TASHA BRANDON ALICE HOPE ALED WILLIAMS

Lighting Designer

Sound & Music

BEN COOK

ERIN WITTON

Company Stage Manager

Marketing

FUNMIBI OGUNLESI

JOE SHELLARD

Producers

AMY HACKETT SHIVANI JASWAL


Aaron

Shannon

ALED WILLIAMS

SHIVANI JASWAL

Carol

Tom

MARY STEENSMA

LESLIE SMITH

Debs

Chorus of the Unnamed Dead

RACHEL DOUGLAS BRIDGET RANDOLPH

BARNY DOAK KURBAN HAJI MARC HAUGHTON SHAUN HOLDEN

Harriet

The Community

ALICE HOPE

VERONICA ALOESS THERESA AUGUSTE PETER CHICKEN AMY HACKETT GWEN SKULL KERRISE STEWART BARBARA VAN DOREN

Gail

Helen

ELLA SADE McLEOD James

ESMONDE COLE Melody

OLIVIA SAWBRIDGE Penny

ERIN WITTON


THE PLAY

“Water crept in like a burglar in the night. Stole my things.”

On the day of the 25th October, St. Crispin’s Day, the floods, memories and ghosts from the past return to a small Gloucestershire town. A local choir’s concert is cancelled. Spirits with unfinished business appear. And a young woman is forced to confront the death of her brother. With the water comes disruption and fear, but the chance of a new start.


Top: Bridget Randolph, Shivani Jaswal, Mary Steensma, Peter Chicken. Left: Marc Haughton, Esmonde Cole Right: Amy Hackett, Olivia Sawbridge Photographs by Marc Brenner


Members of MGCfutures’ Youth Theatre each have a mentor in a different theatre discipline - from directing to lighting design. Here some of the group reflect on their experience.

Playwriting Tim Price

MENTORING

As a writer, a large proportion of my work has been independent. After our first meeting, Tim effectively said, “Go. You can do anything!” The opportunity to create my own world within theatre was intensely appealing. The brainstorming process was gruelling, to say the least, but totally thrilling. As a result of the Youth Theatre I have made such a valuable and supportive contact. The mentoring scheme has allowed me to bounce ideas back and forth between Tim and myself whether it’s a quick email asking for advice in overcoming writer’s block, a question about the effectiveness of a setting or concept, or long periods of silence where I am using the tips and skills my mentor has given me to develop and progress as a writer. Ella Sade McLeod

Education Facilitation Catherine Greenwood The mentoring sessions really helped me to understand how to engage with a large group of people and also to develop exercises which help enrich a group’s understanding of text and character. Furthermore, it also made me realise that the majority of the rehearsal process is about exploration and the director doesn’t need to have all the answers but they have to collaborate with the cast in order to understand the world of the play. Because of my mentoring sessions I was able to apply these skills to our rehearsal process and successfully create the world of our play and have a great time in the process! Kerrise Stewart

Dramaturgy Réjane Collard Pinning down the exact meaning for the creative discipline of dramaturgy is difficult. In England, the term is used pluralistically. It can mean different things to different creative professionals and can be used to describe, in a rather murky fashion, an individual’s creative involvement in the inception, development, or the delivery of a piece of theatre.


In the English theatre, traditionally at least, dramaturgy is closest to that of a Literary Manager - a creative commissioner of new plays. I’ve been lucky enough to have a mentor in Réjane Collard, who is a Dramaturg in the Literary Department at the RSC. For someone who has spent time on the outside looking in, it’s been interesting for me to discuss with Réjane how the work you see on the stage, at one of the country’s leading theatrical institutions, is nurtured there by a small literary department.

“The director doesn’t need to have all the answers but they need to collaborate”

Dealing with all new commissions, of brand new plays and new translations, a literary department is a key mechanism in the energy and creative force behind much of the work we see in most of our leading theatres, and I think that’s something most people don’t know about. It’s been great. Toby Smith

Designing From designing fairy costumes for A Midsummer Night’s Dream to having a small influence on one of the costumes, every moment has been wonderful. My fellow designers and I got to see stunning original costume design sketches and model boxes and even got to sit in on a dress rehearsal and walk the stage. This really has been a once in a lifetime experience and one I will not forget. Alice Hope

Photo: Marc Brenner

Christopher Oram

Many thanks to our mentors who have guided us this year. Alex Baranowski James Bierman Réjane Collard Paule Constable Sophie Gabszewicz Michael Grandage

Catherine Greenwood Tom Littlechild Kate Morley Christopher Oram Tim Price Alistair Smith


The MGCfutures’ Youth Theatre have taken part in workshops with industry professionals to learn about other roles in theatre. Here members reflect on their favourite workshops.

Michael Grandage Whilst the Michael Grandage Company were rehearsing The Cripple of Inishmaan, Michael Grandage led a masterclass with members of the Youth Theatre. He began by discussing the concept of ‘pretending’ and whether or not actors on stage are merely pretending to be someone else or if they in fact become someone else. Of course there was no right or wrong answer, but the heated discussion among the group highlighted the diverse opinions of actors and indeed the impossible

Photo: Nikolai Khalezin

WORKSHOPS

Photo: Marc Brenner

task of the director to strike the fine line between telling someone to ‘become’ or ‘pretend to be’ someone else. Next, we moved on to the script. After a few lines Michael would stop us and ask us questions about the line - unpicking who it was spoken to, why it was spoken and what it actually meant. Once we came to an agreement, we started the scene from the top and got a little bit further before Michael stopped us again. Watching his mind at work was phenomenal - the minutest of details were discussed with the utmost importance and within minutes the scene was taking shape. Peter Chicken


to be aware of our surroundings and work together, thereby making us feel more like a unit. I’m also pretty sure he’s improved my posture. Veronica Aloess

Ben Wright Ben Wright is a choreographer who worked on the movement for some of the shows in the Michael Grandage Company season. He came in to help us finesse movement which we’d incorporated into our devised pieces. With a limited set but a massive cast, the impulse to play with some physical theatre came up in all of our shows. I believe that without him our shows wouldn’t have been as finessed as they were. The feedback which we received from our first performance, and which we’ve tried to maintain since, is that we operate well as an ensemble. Putting a group of young people on a West End stage is pretty scary and I don’t know if we could have done it if we didn’t trust one another to support each other if something went wrong. I’d say the foundation of this was built in Ben’s workshops, as working on movement taught us

In March we were fortunate to host a workshop with Belarus Free Theatre - a radical company who have been oppressed in their own country and use drama to raise awareness about human rights abuses. They are fascinated by taboos and invited us to make paintings of a taboo from our own country, which we linked into the dark themes of Peter and Alice. Overall it was a fantastic experience and it was lovely to meet such dedicated and inspiring people who I hope enjoyed the workshop as much as we did. Barny Doak

Photo: Nikolai Khalezin

Photo: Nikolai Khalezin

Belarus Free Theatre

Photographs Left to Right: Michael Grandage directs Philippa Lawford and Thomas Dennis. Peter Chicken. Samantha Lane and Amy Hackett. Toby Smith with Maria Saznova and Nastassia Shcherback from Belarus Free Theatre.


STEPPING ON TO A WEST END STAGE

FUTURE PLAYERS

Veronica Aloess has been writing a fortnightly blog about MGCfutures’ Youth Theatre for The Stage website MGCfutures’ Youth Theatre have been devising a response to MGC’s current production of The Cripple of Inishmaan, and last month we finally got the chance to perform it in front of an audience of family, friends and theatre professionals (including the cast themselves). How many people dream of performing on a West End stage? The first opportunity we got to rehearse on the stage was on the day, which was our first challenge. All of our blocking required reconfiguring to make the best use of the space and management of

props (this mainly meant potatoes). What I found most difficult about performing on this vast stage, however, was being able to project my tiny voice into the depth and breadth of the stalls, learning the difference between projecting and shouting and spacing ourselves

so that delivery was visible to the entire audience. It brought back memories of our directing masterclass with Grandage, in which we learnt a lot about balancing the aesthetics of staging with what it makes sense for your character to do on stage. So many people dream of performing on a West End stage, but that made the opportunity all the more daunting, and so all of this couldn’t help but fuel the second challenge we had to conquer: nerves.

“Grandage felt the most striking thing about the performance was the group dynamic” And apparently it worked, because during this same discussion Grandage told us that he felt the most striking thing about the performance was the group dynamic: the way we trusted one another onstage to pick each other up if something went wrong (which thankfully it didn’t), and I agree. Performing on a West End stage proved to us, just as much as the audience, that the Youth Theatre has grown from a disparate array of people with a shared interest into a fully-fledged theatre company now. www.thestage.co.uk/columns/future-players


Photos: Marc Brenner

MGCfutures is an independent charitable organisation and needs your support. Please text MGCF01 £10 (or other sum) to 70070 to donate to MGCfutures Ltd and make a difference today to help young people into the theatre. Email info@michaelgrandagecompany.com for more ways to donate and help our work.

Production Thanks Marc Brenner Frankie Bridges Ralph Buchanan Penny Dyer Dominic Francis

Sophie Gabszewicz Nina Cáit Gilbert Rob Halliday Annie Henderson-Begg Natalia Katiada

Nikolai Khalezin Giles Thomas Samantha Lane Ben Wright North London Festival

And all the staff at the Noël Coward Theatre


Registered charity no. 1153534 www.mgcfutures.com


Flood Town MGC Programme