Local school to perform on London stage

Students from a secondary school in Pontefract have been selected to perform on a prestigious London stage as part of the largest youth theatre festival in the UK.

Outwood Academy Hemsworth (OAH) is one of ten schools or youth theatre companies to be chosen to showcase their talents on the Dorfman stage at the National Theatre. 

The performance is part of 2019 National Theatre Connections Festival, which takes place between 25 and 29 June.

Connections is the largest youth festival in the UK, celebrating new writing for young people (aged 13-19). This year’s festival will see 10 new plays, by both established and emerging playwrights including Ben Bailey Smith aka Doc Brown, being performed.

The plays were exclusively commissioned for this year’s festival and are specifically for young people to stage.

Eleanor Aldous, a teacher at OAH and the Director of the production, said: “I am absolutely delighted that our production has been chosen and that the students will get to perform on such a prestigious stage.

“Personally, I have been involved with Connections for six years, I love having the chance to direct new writing and it’s a dream to be picked. I think when the students perform on a London stage, it will be one of the proudest moments of my life. They have all worked so hard and I am so pleased for them.”

After initially applying to be part of Connections last year, the academy was successful in being one of 300  theatres and schools to stage ten fantastic plays commissioned by the National Theatre.

They were assigned the production Variations, written by Katie Hims, to rehearse and perform locally. Katie has written for BBC Radio 4, including five seasons as lead writer on Home Front, and has written for long-running television series Casualty.

Toby Rutter, Principal of OAH, said: “At Outwood Academy Hemsworth, we believe in putting student first, raising standards and transforming lives. We want our students to reach their potential, and we believe that it’s our job to offer them the opportunities to do this.

“We are lucky to have so many talented performers in our school, and the opportunity to be involved in productions like this is something our students will not forget.”

At one local performance by every school or company involved in Connections, a National Theatre director is present to give feedback and suggestions as to how to transfer the show from the home venue to a local professional theatre. 

The students at OAH  performed their production of Variations at York Theatre Royal. 

OAH was then selected as one of the ten companies to perform at the National Theatre to represent the range of exciting work being produced across the UK.

Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre said, "National Theatre Connections brings together young theatre-makers from across the UK with today's most exciting playwrights. I look forward to watching the ten companies perform at this year's Festival, as a reflection of the fantastic variety of productions which have been taking place in every corner of the UK throughout the year. 

“We hope to inspire more young people in the art of theatre-making and the huge variety of backstage and offstage roles involved in creating a production".