Play in a Week was a five-day Youth Programme project which aimed to provide young people aged 11 to 16 with skills in writing, directing and performing a brand new original piece of theatre. Working with actress Alex Rivers, the creative cohort produced an incredibly professional production titled The Beginning. Across five days this idea was formed, developed, rehearsed and then performed at The Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne.
The first morning was spent playing interactive games so that everyone taking part got used to improvisation. From there, Alex encouraged the group to name as many different genres of theatre, film, TV and other media they could think of. Using these genres, Alex took a short scene from Peter Pan and encouraged the group to experiment with implementing features of each genre as they performed.
As the week progressed, the group continued to learn skills in improvisation and really started to take ownership of the production. The more their confidence grew, the more they started to pitch suggestions to Alex. Each attendee created their own character – they decided what they might wear and how they would behave. They were also tasked with writing a monologue that would form part of the final performance. It was so impressive to see these monologues take shape as the week went on. It was clear that all of the young people dedicated time outside of rehearsals to practising and memorising their lines.
On Friday 1st June, the group moved into the Avenue Theatre to the final day of rehearsals. Alex worked on each scene with them, seeing which ideas worked well in the space. Suggestions from the cast were welcomed and the piece continued to improve and evolve into a full 25 minute production. By 4pm, the final rehearsal was complete and the time to perform was nearly upon them all.
Before getting in to the theatre, the cast also turned their hand to some marketing and promotion too. They took to Sittingbourne High Street to hand out flyers advertising their performance in just a few hours time. Play in a Week was more than just learning how to act and improvise; it allowed for a full insight into all the aspects of how a theatre production is created.
At 4.30pm, the Avenue Theatre fell silent and the lights dimmed ready for The Beginning to begin. The performance was well attended by family and friends and the cast emerged for their curtain call to rapturous applause. To have performed a completely original piece of theatre in a professional venue in just 5 days is a challenge, and one all involved more than rose to.
Play in a Week was a fantastic showcase of great talent, and both attendees and audience members expressed their hope for more similar projects so watch this space! In the meantime, why not check out this Behind the Scenes video of the project.