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A great stage for Welsh schools

25 Jun 2024 5 minute read
Porthcawl Comprehensive School performing Orchestra

Young people from Wales have been selected to perform at the National Theatre of Great Britain’s 2024 Connections Festival which starts tonight.

Porthcawl Comprehensive School, Porthcawl and Ysgol Gyfun Gŵyr, Swansea have been selected to perform on the Dorfman stage at the National Theatre of Great Britain as part of the National Theatre Connections Festival which starts today.

The two schools are part of ten groups selected to represent the vast range of talent from across the UK. Porthcawl Comprehensive School will perform Orchestra by Charlie Josephine on Tuesday 25 June.

Ysgol Gyfun Gŵyr will perform Dy Enw Marw (Your Name is Dead) by Elgan Rhys in collaboration with Leo Drayton in Welsh on Friday 28 June.

This play will be performed in Welsh, making it the first full non-English play to be staged at the National Theatre.

Both groups first performed their plays at Connections partner Sherman Theatre earlier this year.

Porthcawl Comprehensive School is a Welsh comprehensive committed to its students’ success especially in the performing arts, with their cast led and directed by a Year 12 Performing Arts student.

Ysgol Gyfun Gŵyr is a Welsh Secondary school in Swansea, South Wales, with a cast made up of students from Year 9-12, with three students from sister school Ysgol Gyfun Bryntawe.

Now in its 29th year, the Connections Festival is an annual nationwide youth theatre festival that champions the talent of young people aged 13-19 from across the UK.

Over 7,500 young people from 250 companies from Plymouth to Pitlochry have taken part this year, performing ten specially commissioned plays at one of 33 leading partner theatres this Spring.

Poster for Dy Enw Mart

Developed in consultation with young people, the festival showcases new plays performed by youth groups nationwide, exploring a range of themes including neurodiversity, cancel culture and mental health.

Writers of this year’s plays include Mojisola Adebayo, and Charlie Josephine as well as Elgan Rhys who, in collaboration with Leo Drayton, has written Connections’ first play offered in both English and Welsh language scripts.

Ysgol Gyfun Gŵyr performing Dy Enw Marw

These groups will also be taking on backstage roles for their performances including directing, lighting, sound design and working as stage crew.

Engaging in all levels of the theatre making process, these young people have the chance to develop new creative skills and learn more about backstage and offstage roles in the creative industry.

Kelly Poole, Head of Drama at Porthcawl Comprehensive School said “Seeing the pupils flourish so greatly in their performance has been an absolute privilege.

“Being able to celebrate their success, performing here at the National Theatre is a once in a lifetime opportunity something I will never forget.”

Students from Ysgol Gyfun Gŵyr

Bethan Lilley, Director and Expressive Arts AoLE Leader at Ysgol Gyfun Gŵyr, said “Connections has been such a rewarding experience for our students.

“They have loved working with such an empowering script and can’t wait to perform and celebrate their Welsh heritage at the Dorfman theatre. The process has been nothing short of brilliant”

Wil, the young director for Porthcawl Comprehensive School, aged 17, said “Leading connections this year has been such an incredibly rewarding experience as a director and a young person.

“For us, a Welsh comprehensive school, being given the opportunity to stage and perform our play at the National Theatre is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“The whole experience has been an absolute joy that none of us expected. Connections has given myself and our cast the opportunity to have access to a side of theatre and new writing we have all fallen in love with.”

Orion, a young participant aged 15 from Ysgol Gyfun Gŵyr, said “Connections festival has been an amazing and exciting opportunity.

“We are very grateful for all who have worked so hard to make this festival what it is today. It’s such an honour to be representing the school and the Welsh language through a script that is a voice to many young trans people. Diolch enfawr!”

Connections poster

Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre said “It is one of my favourite times of year when the National Theatre is buzzing with excitement as these ten youth groups flood the building for Connections Festival

“Connections is such a brilliant opportunity for young people from every corner of the UK to stage new plays and develop skills through the world of theatre-making both on stage and off, firing imagination and creativity that lasts a lifetime.

“To have our first ever full non-English play just spotlights the talent and creativity of the young theatre-makers nationwide. I can’t wait to welcome them all to the National Theatre in June.”

The National Theatre’s Connections Festival runs from 25-29 June. To book tickets visit the National Theatre website.

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