National Youth Theatre of Great Britain Announces LIVING THE DREAM et al for 2010 Season

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Paul Roseby, Artistic Director of the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain, today announced the company's 2010 season, entitled ‘The Five Elements', which will include a re-working of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Shanghai Expo, a 600-strong cast of young actors swarming around London, a new play about the superstar Victorian chef Alexis Soyer, and a new work from Rebecca Lenkiewicz about a female pop star in Afghanistan.

The Five Elements is an innovative and ambitious programme of work involving various large-scale, site-specific projects taking place across the UK and Shanghai. With Earth, Air, Fire, Space and Water as the main inspiration, the National Youth Theatre (NYT) will be showcasing Britain's young talent on an elemental scale in four major projects: Living The Dream, S'Warm, Relish and Stars over Kabul.

NYT will act as global ambassadors for British culture when they present Living the Dream in the UK Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo from July 19 to July 30. An audacious site specific production inspired by William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Living The Dream will be performed by talented young actors and musicians in the shade of the UK's contribution to the Expo, Thomas Heatherwick's "Seed Cathedral" - a six-storey cube-like structure, pierced by some 60,000 transparent acrylic rods which quiver in the breeze. It will also link up with scenes played out thousands of miles away, apparently simultaneously, around iconic sites in London.  A series of everyday items found in gardens and green spaces in the UK will become the tools of play for this highly visual, bilingual and musical interpretation of one of Shakespeare's best known comedies.  Palm-top projectors, laptops and mobile phones will be incorporated into the production, linking the two sides of the play being acted out in Shanghai and in London.  Living The Dream will be performed by a cast of NYT members from across the UK including members of IdeasTap, the National Youth Theatre's online interactive partner, and will be supported by an experienced creative and production team.  While NYT are in Shanghai, they will also be working with Chinese actors and artists from Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre as part of an ongoing collaborative project. 

Joel Scott is a founding member of Punchdrunk and Goat and Monkey Theatre Companies. He specializes in site-sympathetic work, and his previous credits include The Ghost Sonata (Trinity Buoy Wharf), Reverence (Southwark Playhouse), The Juniper Tree (touring) and A Little Neck (Hampton Court Palace). He is currently developing a new project with the 'Ahead of the Game' Cultural Olympiad Programme.

This summer, S'Warm, directed by Peter Collins, will bring a sense of spectacle to the streets of London from August 18 to August 22, all in the name of the humble honeybee.  In recognition of the global environmental crisis posed by the decline of The Common bee, NYT will combine Complicité collaborator Victoria Gould (Shun-Kin, A Disappearing Number) with 600 NYT members, to swarm London, re-uniting at some of the city's most famous landmarks to perform en masse.  Albert Einstein once said: "If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live." In 2008 nearly 20 per cent of the UK's honeybee colonies died; in 2009, a third of the US bee population failed to survive the winter and in Taiwan, 10 million honeybees were reported to have disappeared in just two weeks.  After a 3-week boot-camp rehearsal period in Battersea Park, the 600 strong swarm will journey around the city for five days, moving as bees do in figures of eight. A giant egg timer will be turned outside the iconic Battersea Power Station before a hive of 600 NYT members marches through South London before dispersing around the capital.

Peter Collins has been an Associate Artist at the NYT since 1997 and was formerly Director of Creative Learning. His previous NYT directing credits include Kissing Angels (BAC/Edinburgh Festival), Nicholas Nickleby (Lyric Hammersmith/Lowry) Victory Street (Soho Theatre/Lowry) and Skunk (Soho Theatre). Victoria Gould trained at Manchester and Cranfield Universities, where she gained a BSc (Hons) in Physics and an MSc in Mathematics. A founder member of the devised theatre company Kangaroo Club, she has performed extensively in theatre, radio, film and television. Perhaps her best known role was as journalist Polly Becker in Eastenders (1997-98, BBC TV), while her stage credits include Endgame (Complicité/West End), The Bootmaker's Daughter (Brighton Festival) and Close To You (Old Red Lion). Victoria also worked with Complicité as Artistic Collaborator on Shun-kin, A Disappearing Number and The Elephant Vanishes.

The honeybee pollinates 90 commercial crops worldwide. As well as most fruits and vegetables they pollinate nuts, sunflowers and oil-seed rape. Coffee, soya beans, clovers - like alfafa, which is used for cattle feed - and even cotton are all dependent on honeybee pollination to increase yields. It is believed that their extinction would mean not only a colourless, meatless diet of cereals and rice, and cottonless clothes, but a landscape without orchards, allotments and meadows of wildflowers - and the collapse of the food chain that sustains wild birds and animals.

Over 100 years before Nigella and Jamie set the nation's pulse racing, Victorian chef Alexis Soyer was one of the most famous men in Britain. Relish, by James Graham (Tory Boyz, The Whisky Taster), will tell the story of Soyer's rise from the backstreets of Paris to the salons of the British elite. With a cast of characters including a foul-mouthed Florence Nightingale and chefs cooking live onstage, Relish will prove that celebrity chefs are nothing new.  Relish will be performed from September 3 to September 18 by 60 NYT members and directed by Paul Roseby, Artistic Director of NYT, with music from the award winning composer and musician Philip Sheppard. The show will be performed at Tramshed, a found space in Shoreditch, a short walk from the site of one of Alexis Soyer's original soup kitchens for the poor.  Not content with running one of the most prestigious kitchens in Europe at London's Reform Club, Alexis Soyer found time to open soup kitchens in Shoreditch and feed the starving during the Irish famine. He also invented a portable stove for the British Army, which revolutionised military catering, and played a significant role in the British victory in the Crimean War.

James Graham's previous plays include The Whiskey Taster (Bush), Tory Boyz (NYT/Soho Theatre), A History of Falling Things (Theatre Clywd), Sons of York (Finborough Theatre) and Eden's Empire (Finborough Theatre; winner, Catherine Johnson Award for Best Play 2007). He is Writer in Residence at the Finborough Theatre and a member of the Royal Court/BBC 50 scheme. His first film for television, Caught in a Trap, was broadcast in 2008 and he was picked as one of the Broadcast Magazine Hotshots in the same year. Paul Roseby was appointed Artistic Director of National Youth Theatre in 2004. As well as being an established theatre director, he is also a TV and radio presenter, and is the focus of a major new arts documentary on BBC 2 this June called When Romeo Met Juliet. Other credits include Fabulous Flops, Saturday Live (both BBC Radio 4), The Good Food Show, and Good Food Live (both BBC TV).  Philip Sheppard is an award-winning composer, musician and musical director. His stage credits as composer include In-I, Sacred Monsters, The God of Small Tales, Ronin and Third Catalogue, all choreographed by his long-time collaborator Akram Khan. He won the BBC award for Best Music Production for The Manchester Passion and The Liverpool Nativity. He was a founder member of the Kreutzer String Quartet, performs regularly with UNKLE, and wrote the music for the Olympic Handover Ceremony in 2008.

Tickets for Relish will be £20 and go on sale Friday May 28. They can be purchased by calling 020 7609 1800, visiting the Pleasance Box Office from 10 - 8pm Mon - Sat or 12 - 6 Sunday, or visiting www.pleasance.co.uk.

A woman's life in Afghanistan is far from simple. Rebecca Lenkiewicz's new play, Stars Over Kabul, will open a window into the worlds of three Afghan women who share a name and a nationality.  Competing in the final of ‘Afghan Star', the TV talent show taking Afghanistan by storm, Razia vies for fame, fortune and pop stardom. Watching at home, another Razia has fallen out with her best friend. And far away, a third Razia remembers the time she became the first female crane driver in the whole of Afghanistan...  Incorporating ancient Afghan tales and myths and music, Stars Over Kabul is about identity, religion, the power of song and how hard it is simply to be one's self.  The play will be directed by Juliet Knight and performed from September 23 to September 25 at the Tramway (25 Albert Drive) in Glasgow.

Rebecca Lenkiewicz became the first living female playwright to have a play produced on the main stage of the National Theatre when Her Naked Skin opened in 2008. Her other plays include Blue Moon Over Poplar (NYT/Soho Theatre) The Soldier's Tale (Old Vic), Shoreditch Madonna (Soho Theatre), The Night Season (National Theatre; winner, Critics' Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright 2004) and Soho: A Tale of Table Dancers (Edinburgh Festival Fringe/Arcola; winner, Fringe First award 2000). She also adapted Ibsen's An Enemy of the People for the Arcola Theatre.  Juliet Knight was a member of the NYT in the 80's and is now an associate artist for them. Alongside a career as an actress she has worked as a theatre director for the past 6 years. Her credits include "Prime Resident" by Stella Suffy, "White Boy" by Tanika Gupta and "Out of Me" by Jane Bodie at Soho Theatre.

Tickets for Stars Over Kabul will be £6 and go on sale June 1. They can be purchased by calling 0845 330 3501 or by visiting www.tramway.org.

The NYT will also be inviting applications from June 4 for its next round of auditions, which will take place at 30 venues nationally in February 2011.

National Youth Theatre is Britain's biggest youth arts organization. It works with a community of over 5,500 young people aged 13-25 who live all over the UK. It has over 50 years' experience of proving that outstanding ensemble drama gives young people the tools to discover their voices, describe their lives, and grasp opportunities for change. Each year National Youth Theatre discovers excellent young voices through auditions, open access workshops, and education work and trains over 800 young people in acting and technical theatre. National Youth Theatre also showcases young performers in spectacular productions on a national and international stage. It performs in community settings, on tour, online, in the West End, in Bejing at the Olympic Handover Ceremony, in Abu Dhabi at the FIFA Club World Cup, and in Shanghai at Expo 2010.

Paul Roseby was appointed Artistic Director of National Youth Theatre in 2004. As well as being an established theatre director, he is also a TV and radio presenter and is the focus of a major new arts documentary on BBC 2 this June called When Romeo Met Juliet. Other credits include Fabulous Flops, Saturday Live (both BBC Radio 4), The Good Food Show, and Good Food Live (both BBC TV).

The National Youth Theatre of Great Britain gratefully acknowledges the support of the following funders, without which this season of work and the above productions would not be possible: Arts Council England, v, The John Ellerman Trust, The Peter De Haan Charitable Trust, IdeasTap, MG, UK Expo, The Foyle Foundation and The McGrath Charitable Trust Commission.

 

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