By Natalie Wadwell
Let’s call it out early: I am a sucker for youth theatre ensembles. I love watching and backing the next generation of storytellers. It is people my own age sharing the ideas and views that I also ponder. Here are three of my favourite youth-ensemble productions – may there be many more to come.
#3: The Crucible
You may have read Arthur Miller’s play in high school, but watching this adaption brought the tonalities of the text to life in a way a classroom just couldn’t. Did you know there was humour in this play? It certainly went over my 17 year old head.
Staged at Riverside Theatre in early June, the director, Megan Hipwell asserted that it was a timely opportunity to present the story of witchcraft, McCarthyism and hysteria to a contemporary audience. Suffocating in a society obsessed with perpetuating a culture of fear, gender inequity, secularism and confusion between church and state in politics, this performance demonstrated why some works of literature are considered classics.
A stand out performance was given by Gabriel Alvarado (Giles Corey) who was so compelling in his role that, even when he wasn’t at the centre of the action, he stole my attention.
#2: Suburbist, PYT|Fairfield youth ensamble
I was hooked from the opening scene as the cast performed the familiar gentle sway of traversing the suburbs by train. Dynamic choreography captured the movement of seats and people as they swung in the opposite direction and re-enacted the non-existence of personal space on peak hour commutes. All the while, audio captured various voices sharing their personal experience of suburbist attitudes.
Suburbist and the Powerhouse Theatre Youth Ensemble demonstrate the power of the arts to facilitate necessary conversations about contemporary society. You can read the full review of Suburbist, first published here
#1: Jump first, ask later: parkour from the streets of Fairfield
This is the very first production I saw at PYT | Fairfield. Two years later and it is still touring around the country. I saw it because Katherine Knight wrote a compelling review. I found it to be a captivating, high energy performance from start to finish.
Jump first, ask later mapped the personal histories of six members of the Dauntless Movement Crew (DMC), previously known as Team9Lives. Both names strongly resonate with the physicality, skill and determination necessary for parkour. Jump First, Ask Later demonstrated what it truly means to physically and mentally overcome any obstacle. With a balance between movement and monologue, the six protagonists took the audience on an adventure as they scaled the walls, flipped and navigated scaffolding with extreme gymnastics.
You can read my full review of Jump first, ask later: parkour from the streets of fairfield here.