Plays

Care Takers

Aurora Metro Books
Type: Text

Ms Lawson, a new teacher at Newall South High School, believes Jamie Harrow is being bullied because he's gay. She wants to help but Mrs Rutter, the Deputy Head, thinks it will sort itself out. Is Mrs Rutter speaking from experience or is there something more unsavoury about her uncaring attitude? A battle royale occurs between youthful idealism and the system that evolves to choke it.

Most plays that deal with homophobia in schools look at the children in the playground, but what happens when the people in charge of our children are homophobic? Care Takers is an intense two-hander that follows a new teacher who tries to do something about one of her pupils who is being bullied for being gay.

Homophobia remains a fault-line in our society and especially in our multicultural, inner-city schools where original research undertaken by writer Billy Cowan showed these tensions are still very real. The play shows how complicated things have become for teachers in these schools when it comes to dealing with homophobic bullying, and how vulnerable young gay people still are in these environments – especially if the system gets in the way of their safety.

Includes Teachers' Resources to aid structured discussion and exploration of the themes raised in schools, colleges and beyond. Care Takers is part of an Edge Hill University (Birmingham, UK) research project on homophobia; and can be used as a source text for all those interested in the impact of creative practices in health, psychological well-being and enhancing social inclusion of people (hospitals, social and community centres, mental health centres, schools, and museums).

The Children (Bond)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A disturbed mother sends her son, Joe, to burn down a house in an adjacent estate. Manipulating him until he agrees, she abandons him to his fate once he has completed this task. Worse still, the house was not as empty as he thought when he set it alight.

Fleeing from the law, his friends join him on a journey though an increasingly barren and often violent landscape. Despite the difficulty of their situation and the continuing fragmentation of their community, they nonetheless find the spirit and energy to be compassionate to others – particularly a tramp who cannot walk. But the question remains; how will this compassion be rewarded?

The Children was first presented by Classworks Theatre on 11 February 2000 at Manor Community College, Cambridge. The parts of the children were played by pupils from the college. It went on to tour to seventeen venues; in each new venue a different cast of young people played, with only the actors playing Mum and Man remaining constant throughout the tour.

Christmas is Miles Away  

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Chloë Moss's play Christmas Is Miles Away is a coming-of-age drama set in Manchester at the end of the 1980s. It was first performed at The Studio, Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, on 2 November 2005, transferring to the Bush Theatre, London, in February 2006.

The play's action takes place in Manchester between February 1989 and October 1991. The play opens as best friends Christie and Luke, both sixteen, are camping out in a field not far from their homes. Christie is consumed with anxiety about whether he can pluck up the courage to ask Julie Bridges out on a date. Luke, brasher and more confident, offers to step in on his behalf and, in so doing, starts off a chain of events that will force a wedge between the two boys.

The premiere production was directed by Sarah Frankcom and designed by Jamie Todd. It was performed by David Judge (as Christie), Paul Stocker (as Luke) and Georgia Taylor (as Julie).

Cinderella

Aurora Metro Books
Type: Text

Cinderella is a play about a journey from darkness to light, from sickness to health. Everyone in the play is under the influence of some kind of loss, and the play explores these feelings and the sometimes painful route one must take to accomodate them and move on in life. 'This adaptation of the world’s best-loved fairytale is not to be missed. A Christmas treat for all the family, whether one is five or 95.’ Morning Star

Citizenship

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Citizenship is a bittersweet one-act comedy about growing up, following a boy's frank and messy search to discover his sexual identity.

Tom dreams of being kissed, but he’s not sure whether by a man or by a woman, and he feels he should choose pretty quickly. His friends’ homophobic teasing and interrogations about what he did with his friend Amy the other night leave Tom no space to make up his mind, and he’s got no one to ask for advice, except maybe people on the internet.

Citizenship captures adolescent confusion with a witty and sensitive charm, crackling with humorous and authentic dialogue.

Ravenhill’s play was developed as part of the National Theatre Connections 2005 Programme and premiered in the Cottesloe at the National Theatre, London.

Close To Home

Aurora Metro Books
Type: Text

Jay's little sister is pregnant and he's livid – who's he going to punish?

Cockroach

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Sam Holcroft's play Cockroach depicts a world infected by violence, exploring Darwin's theory of evolution and the apparent male propensity for war. It was first performed at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, on 23 October 2008, in a co-production with the National Theatre of Scotland.

The play is set in a classroom in a seemingly normal modern-day comprehensive school. While Beth, the teacher, instructs the unruly pupils in the principles of natural selection, the boys are being called up to fight in some unspecified conflict that rages on in the world outside. Beth believes that only education will set her pupils free, but, despite her best efforts, the tide of conflict is soon lapping at the school gates. One by one, pupils and teacher are pulled under as their hopes and dreams float away from them. In a central recurring image, the girls clean the torn and bloodied uniforms of dead soldiers.

The premiere production was directed by Vicky Featherstone and designed by Naomi Wilkinson. It was performed by Frances Ashman, Ryan Fletcher, Meg Fraser (as Beth), Laura McMonagle, Helen Mallon and Owen Whitelaw.

Consensual

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Evan Placey's Consensual is a play about a pupil-teacher relationship that has overstepped the mark. It was first performed by the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain at Ambassadors Theatre, London, on 18 September 2015.

The play's action revolves around a British secondary school, with an ensemble group of students maintaining an insistent presence throughout the first half. Diane is a teacher and Head of Year 11, charged with implementing the new ‘Healthy Relationships’ curriculum. Seven years ago, as a 22-year-old teaching assistant, she made a mistake: she got too close to one of her unhappy 15-year-old pupils, Freddie. Now she is a fully-qualified teacher and heavily pregnant, and Freddie has turned up. Lost and unhappy, he's intent on pressing charges. Though we see both of their stories, in the first half we're never sure the truth of what happened. While Diane tries to teach a bunch of teenagers SRE – the new educational buzzword for Sex and Relationships Education – her world unravels in the background. Freddie, meanwhile, is undermined and ridiculed by his brother for going to the police. At the time, he crowed about his conquest. Unsettlingly, who is right and who is wrong is not clear cut.

The National Youth Theatre production was directed by Pia Furtado and designed by Cecilia Carey. The cast was Lauren Lyle, Oscar Porter-Brentford, Grace Surey, Megan Parkinson, Conor Neaves, Cole Edwards, Oliver West, Luke Pierre, Gavi Singh Chera, Jason Imlach, Oliver West, Andrew Hanratty, Francene Turner, Melissa Taylor, Alice Feetham, Paris Iris Campbell and Ellise Chappell.

Decades

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Modern life isn't easy and it never has been.

This explosive play by Leo Butler transports us through time, looking at what happens when the next generation begin to find their feet in an ever-changing world.

Through a kaleidoscope of characters, we see tensions rocket and values crumble, exposing the best and worst of what it means to be human.

This epic roller coaster of a play combines euphoria and despair as different generations of young people ask the same question: where do we go from here?

Decades received its world premiere at Ovalhouse, London, on 7 June 2016, in a production by Brit School for Performing Arts and Technology.

A term used since the Second World War to denote the creative use of young people’s spare time through the medium of theatre and drama. The activity has grown out of schools drama, enlightened amateur theatre and community drama initiatives, but is not now tied to any single institutional allegiance and involves theatrical performances created by many different groupings of young people. In 1999 there were more than 700 youth theatre groups in the United Kingdom. Those aged between 11 and 20 are the most active participants but the age range has extended to cover those from 5 to 30 years and older. Nearly all work with groups is undertaken on a full or part-time basis by leaders from a wide range of professional backgrounds, primarily education, theatre and youth work.

In the summer of 1956 Michael Croft undertook a production of Shakespeare’s Henry V with a group of former pupils from Alleyn’s School, south London, where he had been teaching. Youth theatre’s first major public manifestation in Britain was thus an emancipation of the school play whose tradition had been long but fairly conservative. Croft’s project grew in scope and reputation, despite many struggles for official recognition and funding, and was in 1961 given the title National Youth Theatre. Croft’s initiative inspired a number of developments in youth theatre during the following two decades, including the annual National Festival of Youth Theatre, which lasted from 1977 to 1986. At the National Festival in 1982 the initiative was taken to set up a National Association of Youth Theatres, and this body has continued to act as a support and development agency for youth theatre work since that date. In the 1970s County Youth Theatres were set up by local education authorities in places like Leicestershire and Devon, and a number of regional repertory theatres established their own groups. The momentum of youth theatre development was picked up in the 1980s by local government departments concerned with recreation and in the 1990s by national funding agencies as a medium for youth arts work. Many groups have set up independently, and youth theatre continues to owe its rather ad hoc growth to a number of committed and hardworking individuals. There has always been an awareness, however, that through youth theatre work young people’s performances provide a radical renewal of social perspective both for the participants and for the communities to which they belong.

Youth theatre advances in line with the differing social and cultural emphases of individual countries. Throughout mainland Europe, where there are huge discrepancies in support and development, it enjoys a wide variety of cultural affiliations. In Austria and Finland, for example, it has evolved out of a strong amateur theatre tradition with the help of supportive youth work. Danish youth theatre has also received its greatest encouragement from youth work and the great diversity of the educational system, and plays an important role in social education and theatrical experimentation. In Portugal, a similar tradition has been recovered since the return to civilian government in 1974, which has lent a strong socio-cultural dimension to the work. In France and Malta, by contrast, there are strong links with formal education, particularly drama training, and in the Netherlands much work is centred on professional theatre companies. Whether youth theatre development is sparse, as in Flanders, or strong and well-supported, as in Germany, it is generally felt that the work is given insufficient public support and status.

There are strong developments in the United States and in India and south-east Asia, where subsidized professional theatre is less common, and youth theatre forms part of a strong community drama movement. In Australia an impressive tradition of innovation and social relevance has developed out of the creative coalition of young performers and professional practitioners.

Despite the lack of a worldwide organization, a spirit of internationalism has been greatly advanced by the increasing number of international exchange visits between groups. In 1982 the first European Children’s Theatre Encounter was held in Belgium, and in 1987 young people from 19 European countries attended the first European Youth Theatre Encounter in Stratford-Upon-Avon in Britain. Both events have continued to be hosted by European countries on a regular basis in the 1990s.

Youth theatre in the UK continues to develop, thanks mainly to the work of the National Association. It established the Big Youth Theatre Festival in 1994 as a major focus of growth for the medium, and in 2000 the Festival attracted 800 participants from seven countries to a greenfield site in the south of England. Increasing numbers of groups experiment with the language of performance and across art forms to produce hybrid work which is ‘postmodern’ in spirit. History may characterize youth theatre by such radicalism, see it as one creative element in a leisure-based culture or acknowledge its enduring value as the best of youth work; in any event, thanks to the participation of generations of young people, its effects will be felt for many decades and in many cultures.

from Roger Hill, The Continuum Companion to Twentieth-Century Theatre, ed. Colin Chambers (London, 2011).