Monday, 26 May 2014


Photo Credit:  West Yorkshire Playhouse

"Once upon a time there was a girl.  And then there wasn't."

Pronoun was on during the National Theatre Connections Festival of Plays performed by Youth Theatres and schools.  Young people have an opportunity to create and perform plays on stage.  The West Yorkshire Playhouse hosted one of the festivals during May. I had the opportunity to see Evan Placey's Pronoun which was part of NT Connections and performed by the West Yorkshire Playhouse Youth Theatre under the direction of Gemma Woffinden.  The modern play explores the romantic relationship between Josh and Isabella, who are childhood sweethearts, and their future plans.  Only that Isabella is now Dean.

Pronoun explores challenges and journeys faced by young trans people who since coming out or who haven't yet come out.  The play was performed in a story telling format by the characters who shared their thoughts and feelings and the challenges one faces supporting DeanDean (played by Beth Knight) told his story about his gender transition and its challenges he faced in his life. The motions were convincingly applied such as the passing, binding and backing reflecting his preferred gender.

Dean's Mum (played by Jack Silkstone) and Dad (played by Catherine Hawthorn) told their story about the little girl and what she has now become.  The cross dressing of both the parents reminds us the story's contextual themes.  It's inadvertently felt they were trying to their best to come to terms and understand Dean's gender identity from the research they have done on the matter.

Josh (played by Liam Roberts) expressed his struggles accepting Isabella as Dean and emotively expressed his mixed feelings about Dean's trans journey.  His optimism, however, remained steadfast with the dream of travelling together during their gap years.

Dean aspired to James Dean (played by Ryan Quarmby), an imaginary mentor, whose encouragement and beliefs for Dean to become who he really is.  A wide range of issues were explored in Pronoun such as Dean's wish to be accepted and loved in society for who he is and not for people to 'tolerate' him because they're statutory obliged to, according to the speech he made at the college.  Gender identity and sexuality are subjects which society are not used to dealing with even if there is increased awareness now than ever before.

There are the emotions young trans people face especially the 'conventional' social pressures young people face which can lead to mental health issues and loneliness.  It's such a brave journey trans people goes through as the transition from coming out which can be a long process and the mental and emotional feelings they go through in order to be rightly identified for who they really are.  Dean expressed his frustration in the play, 'Conceal for what I'm not?'.

The play will hopefully raise the awareness of the trans communities including the young trans people.  It's an excellent and very moving play written sensitively by Evan Placey and directed successfully by Gemma Woffenden which raises the crucial awareness of sexuality including transgender.

As Dean (Played by Beth Knight) stated that stories do have a happy ending indicating hope and optimism for the future.  There are some locals groups which are working very hard in supporting awareness and celebrating the positives in order for trans people to have fulfilling lives without hindrance. 

A big thanks to the very talented cast of West Yorkshire Playhouse Youth Group and creative team members including Daz Kershaw (Stage Manager), Matt Young and Paul Lovett (Lighting), Martin Pickersgill and Sam Mulligan (Sound).  One's biggest wish is the production be repeated as the raised messages are very important in society today.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Looking forward to New Adventure's Lord of the Flies!

 Image Credit: New Adventures
(Taken from

I've booked to see New Adventure's Lord of the Flies at Liverpool's Empire Theatre in September.  I'm especially looking forward to seeing New Adventure's exciting production!  Hearing amazing things and reading positive reviews about it I'm even more excited!  I've asked two New Adventure fans, Annie and Sister Morticia,  to share their thoughts about Lord of Flies which they saw at Lowry Theatre in Salford, Greater Manchester in April.  Here are their thoughts:

Lord of the Flies - The Lowry, Salford. Thursday April 3rd 2014 - Annie

Visceral. Raw. Powerful. A group of schoolboys abandoned and seemingly forgotten in a deserted,locked theatre. Initially an exciting utopia, a playground for innocent games and adventures, and nourished by a diet of ice-cream and crisps; Paradise is soon lost as innocence descends into bullying, order and structure to savagery and anarchy, morals forgotten in superstition and violence.

Based on William Golding's novel of the same name, choreographed by Scott Ambler and directed by Matthew Bourne, as always with a New Adventures production, this is very definitely a play told using dance and movement rather than a modern ballet.

The production is staged jointly under the banner of New Adventures and Re: Bourne. Re: Bourne is an outreach programme seeking to nurture young dancers drawn from each location visited by the tour, bringing them together with experienced professional dancers to form a new company in each venue.

The company of 9 professional and 24 locally recruited young dancers created a production filled with energy, youthful athleticism and veiled aggression, working together with an air of professionalism which was a testament to the talent and dedication of all the dancers, merged seamlessly together into a strong and coherent performance.

The energy and drama depicted pulled the audience through an unstoppable emotional and increasingly disturbing journey into dystopia. So powerful was the Company portrayal that shock audibly resonated through the auditorium more than once, and yet did not detract from the sheer energy and excitement of the piece.

A simple yet effective set by Lez Brotherston and an atmospheric musical soundscape by Terry Davies complimented and completed the production perfectly.

The setting may differ from that of Golding's original, but the message remains the same: the history of humanity encapsulated into the microcosm of an abandoned theatre where innocence descends into dystopia and yet, at the end, it becomes clear that these are just children struggling to cope with a situation beyond their control.

An intriguing, shocking yet ultimately impressive production which is definitely worth a visit.

Annie @corieltauviart

Lord of the Flies - 4th April 2014, The Lowry, Salford, Greater Manchester -
Sister Morticia

In April this year, I travelled up to Manchester to see the touring production of Matthew Bourne's New Adventures “Lord of the Flies”. I had seen the original performance in Glasgow a couple of years ago and was amazed by it, so had been waiting a long time to see if it would tour.  Not everyone understands why one would undertake a six hour train journey to see a dance production, but to me the trip was more than worth it!

The Lowry Theatre is a big, modern venue with great sight lines and acoustics so always a wonderful place to see a dance production. The stage is set as an empty, abandoned theatre in darkness; props, old costumes, platforms and scaffolding left behind. The outside door opens and rows of regimented school boys march in, orderly and tidy, dressed in their uniforms, knowing their places in the hierarchy by age and status, keeping up the standards of their school. Suddenly the door crashes shut – leaving them trapped and in darkness!

"Confusion. A sign of times, all the boys get out their mobiles, familiar stretching and climbing to try to find a signal. But no, they are isolated. Lights are found, time to explore their new surroundings. From this characters begin to emerge..."
 "A palpable joy of childish freedom begins to spread through the boys – no rules, no adults, all fun and imagination as they find ways to play with all the things they find around them, turning dressing boxes into aeroplanes and engines..." 

"Uniforms begin to change... shirts are removed, ripped, shoes are gone, society unravels just a little at a time..."
"...The boys are feral. They have daubed themselves with ashes, tribal marks to show their status, that they are fierce warriors and hunters now.  There are no more registers." 
"The line has been crossed."

The dancers are phenomenal, they are incredibly actors. Dominic North's Ralph is entirely believable as a young man who tries to use his reason and intelligence and keep his life and sanity in a world gone mad. His face in the last scene, eyes filled with tears and piercing the darkness, filled with the horror of what he has scene – absolutely heartbreaking. Sam Plant is perfect as Piggy; someone who is a figure of bullying due to his weight and his reliance on his glasses, but he tries so hard to stand up to every one of them and you feel every moment of his pain. Danny Reubens relishes Jack, a bully who wallows in the power of his physicality – he whips up his followers into a frenzy of bloodlust and fear and embraces the anarchy.  Layton Williams is beautifully fragile as Simon.  He captures that slightly otherworldly feeling of a boy who cannot entirely trust his own reality, and his dancing has both elegance and strength.

The 24 local boys, aged from 10 to 25, who made up the rest of the cast were brilliant on stage.  They all danced with total conviction and fully inhabited the characters they had been given. They were all very natural and filled with the energy of schoolboys suddenly given the freedom to go wild in a new world. It was wonderful to see a lot of them after the show, signing programmes for audience members and absolutely bursting with pride at what they had achieved in just a few weeks of rehearsals, from having no dance or stage school experience, all thrilled to learn that dance does not necessarily mean tights and tutus, but food fights, fighting with sticks and ripping up uniforms!

An absolutely amazing production, a beautiful and haunting re-interpretation of a classic book, a brilliant design by Lez Brotherson, a fitting, original score by Terry Davies, a way of igniting creativity, imagination and opportunity in the young men of Manchester and all communicated in dance.

What's not to love?!! 

Sister Morticia

Next 'New Adventure' will be Swan Lake soon! Watch this space....