Two West Country colleges have starring roles in a prestigious national theatre showcase...

TWO WEST Country colleges have starring roles in a prestigious national theatre showcase.

Cornwall College and St Brendan’s Sixth Form College from Bristol have been selected to stage a new play at the National Theatre as part of its 2018 Connections Festival, which takes place on June 26-30.

Cornwall College will perform The Changing Room, a new piece of writing by Chris Bush, having first performed the play at Connections’ partner theatre Theatre Royal, Plymouth.

St Brendan’s Sixth Form College will perform Want – by Barney Norris – having first performed the play at Connections’ partner theatre the egg, Theatre Royal Bath.

Connections is the largest youth theatre festival in the UK which celebrates new writing for young people aged 13 to 19.

Ten new plays by both established and emerging contemporary playwrights were exclusively commissioned for young people to stage and perform for this year’s Festival.

With more than 6,500 young people taking part, the plays have been premiered at 28 partner theatres. Of the 250 youth theatre companies and schools taking part, Cornwall College and St Brendan’s are two of ten selected to perform.

Connections forms a key part of National Theatre’s commitment to learning and supporting young theatre-makers by giving them the opportunity to stage a production in a professional theatre.

Young people can get involved in all aspects of staging the production in both on and off-stage roles, from set design to costume, lighting and stage management.

Karen Burdon, group leader from Cornwall College, said: “The commissioning of plays specifically for people of their age provides our students with a special invitation to be part of a professional platform and their aspirations begin to soar to new heights.

“It’s so special for them to think that they are part of something much bigger, that up and down the country there are others like themselves creatively unlocking and interpreting plays that were written just for them.”

Liberty Bensley, 18, said: “Being part of Connections has been such an amazing experience. “Getting to perform on different stages – especially the National – is such an amazing opportunity. It’s given us a chance to show what we’re made of and produce a professional performance which has been hard work but so much fun.”

Anne Mowbray, group leader from St Brendan’s, said: “I am so enormously proud of our company of young performers, technicians and directors.

“The Connections Festival is a fantastic example of the power of the Creative Arts to transform young people’s lives, arming them with the power of confidence, creativity, empathy and teamwork which they will need for the future.”

A member of the company said, “Connections is not only a great opportunity, but has also kindled friendships for life. It has been an exciting and jam-packed journey.”

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.