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31st March - 3rd April

NT Shell Connections 2004

Wed 31st & Fri 2nd: Karamazoo by Philip Ridley; Youthopia devised by KYT; and the The Willow Pattern by Judith Johnson.

Thur 1st & Sat 3rd: "Where I Come From - Scenes from Abroad by Susan Williams" by Richard Nelson; and Boat Memory by Laline Paull.

This year Kildare Youth Theatre's involvement with the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain's Shell Connections project sees them perform a small festival of plays for young people. There are five very varied pieces of challenging new theatre on offer, from the home-made, devised, physical theatre piece called Youthopia to the televisual, period drama Boat Memory.

Karamazoo is a 20 minute monologue about bullying but popular and attractive teenager who reveals to us his/her hidden pain, shame and determination to be dominant. It is fresh new writing from Philip Ridely, constituting one of the most insightful and riveting monologues ever written for a teenage actor. There is a male version of the play and a female version. They are directed by Yvonne O'Hara and Peter Hussey.

Youthopia is an issue-based piece of physical theatre devised by a small group and directed by Laurence Hamill. It lasts approximately 20 minutes and expresses young people's attitudes to what they consider to be the most pertinent social issues facing them today.

The Willow Pattern by Judith Johnson is an inventive dramatisation of the ancient Chinese tale of doomed lovers, woebegone doves, evil Mandarins and ruthless warriors, made famous by the blue ceramic paintings found on crockery and china plates. It is performed in an energetic and comic style that benefits the epic nature of the tale and is directed by Darren Donohue.

Where I Come From - Scenes from Abroad by Susan Williams by Richard Nelson is a play for the older teens. It is set in 1987 in a London B&B where a group of American high-school kids spend the last night of a culture week in Britain. They are left without adult supervision for this last night and they have a party. The play is naturalistic and performed in real-time, with characters moving in and out of the room, slowly getting drunk, revealing secrets to each other, discussing and berating their parents, and beginning to form romantic alliances, all of which is narrated by Susan Williams from the present time. This play contains strong and sexually explicit language. Where I Come From is directed by Mary Duffin.

Boat Memory by Laline Paull is the second play for the older teens. It is set in 1832 when Captain Fitzroy returns from South America to London with four young Tierra del Fuegian captives. They are given to Rev Williams to be civilised and Christianised, in the expectation that they will become future missionaries to Tierra del Fuega. The play recounts how they are treated in London and explores the effects of their presence on all those with whom they come in contact. Boat Memory is based on real people and real events. It is subtle, powerful and unsettling. This play contains scenes of a graphic and sexual nature. It is directed by Peter Hussey.

KYT take Karamazoo to Lyceum, Edinburgh
Kildare Youth Theatre toured two versions of Philp Ridley's play ' Karamazoo' to Edinburgh 16 - 18 June.

The Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh hosted the Scottish regional NT Shell Connections Festival from 16 to 19 June. It was opened by Alice Cunningham playing the female version and Ger Brady playing the male version of Philip Ridley's Karamazoo.

Both shows played to a packed Lyceum and excellent reviews. [Ali Cunningham] got to the heart of the monologue, that is, telling a fairy story her dead father had told her, at which point she soared away. At the other end of the evening, Ger Brady hit the stage running. His Ace was pure bravado and he caught every aspect of the twitching and sneering, self-confessed alpha male perfectly. 'The Evening News' 17 June.

A final chance to see these wonderful plays will present itself during the Wyeth Kildare Festival of Youth Drama 12th - 16th July in Riverbank.


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