Worth drawing your attention, I think, to three useful shows/learning experiences for young audiences which are coming up soon.
First there’s Cesario, a new play by Bryony Lavery, due to open at the National Theatre’s Pop-up Workshop this week on Wednesday 22 August.
Directed by Anthony Banks and designed by Susan Kulkarni, with music by Tom Mills, the production is inspired by the twins in Shakespeare’s plays. Meant for family audiences, it promises to be both funny and touching while dealing with themes of belonging and loss and is a summer treat for family audiences. Cesario is commissioned for the World Shakespeare Festival which is produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company for London 2012 Festival. It is performed by a company of young actors chosen from local schools and youth theatres.
Second, Polka Theatre has a new show about the August 2011 riots opening next month - its first piece of verbatim theatre. Running from 28 September - 27 October, Sticks & Stones is suitable for ages 9 - 13 and comes just after the first anniversary of the riots that took place in cities across the country.
Written by playwright Ali Taylor, it will present the views and opinions of young people growing up in the UK today and use stories from those involved with, or affected by, the riots, Polka hopes to open up a discussion on the events of last summer by focusing on a fictional group of children caught in the middle of the disturbances.
Ali Taylor visited children in London, Nottingham and Bristol to collect the words and testimonies which form the content for the show. After its season at Polka the production will tour to Nottingham, Bristol and Manchester.
Third, for older young audiences - particularly theatre studies and English A level students - there’s a pared down (seven actors) version of The Duchess of Malfi coming up - it promises to be confrontational, and perhaps controversial with a set comprising six chairs and a gramophone.
Formed in 2008 by Cheek by Jowl’s Associate Director Owen Horsley, Eyestrings Theatre Company is “committed to producing courageous and bold interpretations of the classics.” The Arts Council-funded company premieres its new production of Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi at the Burton Taylor Studio, Oxford September 5-8 followed by a run at The White Bear Theatre, London September 11-30.
Eyestrings is planning to tour this production more widely next year.