National makes annual Connections in July

Published June 18, 2008

Plays by Mark Ravenhill, Nicholas Wright and Frantic Assembly are included in the National Theatre’s New Connections festival this year, which runs from 3 to 8 July.

New Connections, which was established in 1995, commissions plays for and about young people from some of the best contemporary playwrights, for performance by schools and youth theatres all over the UK and Ireland. The July festival invites 10 of these young companies to showcase an example of each of the plays at the National.

The search for identity is a recurrent theme in this year’s plays, across diverse scenarios including acceptance and survival in modern Britain, racial equality in 1960s South Africa, magical allotments, snow blizzards, parenting, faith and social networking.

For the first time, two physical theatre pieces are included in the programme: It Snows, by Frantic Assembly and Bryony Lavery, and puppet play The Peach Child, by Anna Furse and Little Angel Puppet Theatre.

The other plays are: Ravenhill’s Scenes From A Family Life, A Vampire Story by Moira Buffini, He’s Talking by Wright, My Face by Nigel Williams, Arden City by Timberlake Wertenbaker, Peter Tabern’s The Book Of Everything, Abi Morgan’s Fugee and Burying Your Brother In The Pavement by Jack Thorne.

This year, sponsorship from Bank of America has enabled the National to widen the programme to involve young people outside of mainstream education. Four additional plays will run alongside the main festival under the title Theatre Of Debate. Developed with young people from around the UK, they tell stories based on their own experiences, and are followed by a debate driven by those working closely with teens of today.

The plays in Theatre Of Debate, which run in the Lyttelton from 4 to 7 July, are: Blackout by Davey Andersen, Big Hopes by Gary Owen, Safe by Deborah Gearing and The Boys by Grassmarket Productions.

Nicholas Hytner, Director of the National Theatre, commented: “We are hugely grateful to Bank of America for their generous support, which is enabling New Connections to develop into an even more exciting programme. It promises to fire the imaginations and aspirations of everyone involved.”

CB