The next generation of actors from a White City youth drama group that has forged a link with the prestigious National Theatre are set to showcase their talents next month.
Youngsters from the White City Youth Theatre will be performing on stage at the Lyric theatre (which is financially supported by Hammersmith & Fulham Council) as part of the National Theatre Connections festival – a nationwide celebration of new plays for young people.
The 18-strong cast involved in the performance of The Monstrum, by playwright Kellie Smith, have been rehearsing intensely since January for the show on 6 May.
The pressure will be on for the local youngsters – aged from 9-19 – as it will be the first time that many of them have set foot on a professional stage.
White City Youth Theatre co-director Lucy Foxell explained that the project was a ‘really exciting opportunity for the young people’.
“It has been an amazing experience for the kids because the play is so well written, and to get the opportunity to do a piece especially written for young people is incredible,” she said.
“It is amazingly hard work, but we are delighted to be involved with such a prestigious theatre.”
White City Youth Theatre
The White City Youth Theatre officially launched as a dedicated local Community Interest Company (CIC) three years ago, after having been previously run under a sports-focused charity.
Now run by Lucy and co-director Melanie Thaw, the free group meets each Monday during term time at St Michael & St George Church, in Commonwealth Road, with separate sessions for juniors aged 9-11 and seniors aged 11-18.
The committed budding actors benefit from meeting other young people from across White City, and the group aims to help raise aspirations and self-esteem, explained Lucy.
As part of the Connections project, the group has already benefited from the expertise of the National Theatre, when a director visited the young people on 27 March to offer advice on their upcoming production.
Ahead of the show on 6 May, the young actors will also have the chance to perform a technical rehearsal at the Lyric, and take part in a special workshop organised by the theatre.
“It is amazingly hard work, but such an exciting experience,” added Lucy.
The Monstrum is one of 10 brand new plays written especially for the National Theatre’s Connections festival and follows the story of a disease which breaks out among a village’s children.
One of the young people taking part in the performance at the Lyric Hammersmith is 15-year-old Steph Jahier, who said the play ‘reflects what we are all going through as teenagers and how our parents struggle with the way we change’.
“We have learnt so much since started working on The Monstrum, and the whole experience of being part of National Theatre Connections has been a fun and enjoyable one,” said Steph.
“To be able to perform at our local theatre is beyond amazing and we honestly cannot wait for show day to arrive.”
The White City Youth Theatre is one of more than 250 young theatre groups taking part in the Connections festival this year, and the National Theatre’s director Rufus Norris explained it was ‘one of the most important projects we do’.
“We think it vital that young people, wherever they are in the country and whatever their future path, have a chance to get involved in theatre,” he added.
The White City Youth Theatre will perform The Monstrum at the Lyric Hammersmith on at 8.30pm on Saturday 6 May. Tickets are £8 and available from the box office on 020 8741 6850.