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Youth Theatre members join professional production

This summer four of our Playmakers Youth Theatre were cast in Rabble Theatre’s epic production of Henry I, which was performed at The Great Hall, Winchester from Wednesday 12 – Saturday 15 July 2023.

Amy Hagrave, Florence Sharman, Jemima Smith and Ofia Denny joined our drama and musical theatre groups last year and have since explored imagination, favourite things and the environment for performances for our Youth Takeover at Theatre Royal Winchester in the spring; and in early July they performed at Hat Fair. Amy was in the Carnival while Florence and Ofia starred in a play about extinction and Jemima appeared in one about power and consequence.

After Henry I, we asked them about their experience.

‘Nervous’ but ‘happy’ and ‘excited’ was how they described how they felt about the auditions involving ‘fun’ games, improv and concentration exercises and discussion around sword fighting!

They were all thrilled when they were cast – with Amy’s mum Bryony saying of her daughter: ‘she couldn’t wait to perform to a large audience’, and adding that after their first rehearsal, Amy was ‘buzzing… you could tell she really enjoyed it and couldn’t wait to do more’.

"Playmakers has given my daughter, Amy, the skills and confidence to follow her dreams"

Bryony, Youth Theatre parent

Florence was ‘bursting with excitement’ and added: ‘especially as this was my first audition’; and Ofia’s response to getting a part: ‘OMG, so excited! I couldn't wait to find out more.’ Jemima ‘cried’ from excitement when she heard she’d got a part.

After the girls were sent their scripts, they had a ‘tight schedule’ with rehearsals just days before the first performance. Here they met the professional cast and director. ‘They were brilliant and really nice… really patient and talked me through where I had to be and when,’ Ofia explained.

Jemima had several characters and costume changes and seven lines to learn. She said: ‘It doesn’t sound a lot but it is when you know you’re performing in front of a lot of people. I had butterflies most of the time backstage.’

The main cast helped the girls settle incredibly though, with Florence feeling supported by their ‘high fives and big grins’.

‘Amy really enjoyed working in such an amazing venue and with the professional actors who were incredibly welcoming and supportive,’ her mum added.

Jemima said: ‘All the other actors were so kind and funny... It was seriously amazing.’

"By doing stuff like the Takeover and Hat Fair, it gave me the experience of being in a proper (professional) performance."

Jemma, Youth Theatre member

Ofia added: ‘I was really grateful to be a part of it. Being backstage and watching everything was so cool, there were so many props and costumes. I loved every minute of it and it was sad when I finished my final performance.’

All of the girls have credited Playmakers Youth Theatre with encouraging and supporting them and playing a big part in them auditioning for Henry I.

Florence cited Youth Theatre with helping her to ‘feel comfortable on stage and speak with volume’. She added: ‘I thank them for the knowledge they have taught me… this was phenomenal.’

Ofia said: ‘They (Youth Theatre) always tell you not to be afraid… they encourage you to move out of your comfort zone but not in a scary way, in a fun way…'

‘They make sure you have fun so you’re actually enjoying the group, rehearsals and performances… I really enjoy it.’

It sounds like they had the most incredible and worthwhile time!

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