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Curtain up for a double treat
THE young actors of the Mercury Youth Theatre are back for another Fresh Festival and this year there are two productions to look forward to.
Last year’s Cider with Rosie saw all three of the Colchester theatre’s youth drama groups merge for one show.
Now they’ve mixed the groups up and split them down the middle for Hard Times, by Charles Dickens, and the Prodigious Snob, by Moliere. It’s something that has gone down very well with those taking part.
Tom Tanner, 15, may live in Wivenhoe, but chooses to go to the Colchester Senior Youth Theatre group, while Charlotte Kirkpatrick-Luke, 17, lives in Maldon, but is more than happy to make the trip to Wivenhoe’s Senior Youth Theatre.
Both are appearing in the Prodigious Snob, directed by Adrian Stokes, and enjoying the fact they are getting to meet new people from the other groups.
Charlotte says: “I started two years ago because I had lot of friends from Colchester who were going. I enjoyed it so much, it was what made me choose to go to the Sixth Form College here instead of a college closer to home.
“This is my second Fresh, but it is totally different to last year’s, especially with the merging of the groups and then splitting them.
“It’s given us more of a chance to meet the other groups and work with new people, which has been amazing.”
Tom says: “I’ve made loads of friends just from doing this and learnt lots of new things.
“It’s my First Fresh, so it’s a very new experience to me. I like the fact it’s not just about rehearsing a play. We also did a session on commedia dell’arte, which was really interesting.”
Over at the rehearsals for Hard Times, Daisy Jones, 18, of Ardleigh, is enjoying her fifth and last Fresh Festival.
“There is a bit of sadness,” she smiles, “because I know this is it, but I’m making the most of it. I’m playing the part of Louisa and I get to wear a rather nice white dress. I know some of the others don’t like their costumes, but I keep on telling them it takes five years to get the good costumes.”
A member of the Wivenhoe Youth Theatre group, because of her age Daisy, has to leave the group at the end of the next school year but says she has loved her time doing Fresh.
“It’s been brilliant,” she says. “I was one of the first to take part in the Fresh Festival. None of us knew what it was going to be like, but now I’m always telling the younger guys they should be a part of it.
“There’s quite a bit of work, but it’s so rewarding.” Although it may be Daisy’s last Fresh performing on the stage, she could always take a leaf out of former youth theatre members Dave Norton, Andrew Livingstone, Natalie Songer and Joe Marsh, who have returned to help out assisting with the main directors.
Helping Gari Jones direct Hard Times, is Andrew Livingstone, who has just finished the first year of his acting course at Rose Bruford College in London.
He says: “It’s a little bit weird coming back, but I’m enjoying passing on those skills which I learnt when I was in Fresh. It’s actually very nice being on the other side.”
Dave agrees. Now an actor/practitioner at the Mercury Theatre , he’s also helping out with Hard Times.
“I’ve been very fortunate to assist a number of directors through Fresh,” he adds, “and I love working with young actors.
“They’ve got bags of energy which is good because we do ask a lot of them. “There’s a lot of scene changes and cues to learn, but they’re all doing very well.
Today, some of the cast members are taking part in a live performance piece outside the Firstsite Gallery, Colchester, from 1.30pm to 2.30pm. There will be a chance to pick up free tickets to the shows.
Hard Times, August 22 and 23. The Prodigious Snob,
August 24 and 25
£6.50, £4.50 concessions.