Young Players

It all started with a trip to the theatre.

Parkend Young Players (PYPs) were formed in 2002, when a group of Parkend Players met to explore how the young people of our group could be best served. Our first activities included, acting workshops & and a trip to Bristol Old Vic to see the highly acclaimed ‘Wind in the Willows’. Although both activities received great feedback, the main aim was for PYPs to stage their own production.

Parkend Young Players committee organised a meeting called ‘Let us hear What you want!’ in June 2003 for PYPs to express what they would like from us. The attendees were split into 3 groups, according to age and spent 20 minutes each with Sue Brand – discussing the newsletter/shows/outings, Pip Deave – with an ideas board and Yvonne Walkerdine – discussing the script and story of The Man from Galilee. 27 came, 16 PYPs and 11 new youngsters

Ideas for outings included

Under 9s: Circus, Joseph’s Technicolor Dreamcoat, Museum & Cinema

9 –11s: Pantomime, Drama & Comedy

12 – 18: The Globe Theatre & Back stage Tour

With the foresight and hard work of Yvonne Walkerdine, and the PYP committee, we presented ‘The Man from Galilee’. The play was set around the last days of Jesus’ life; with songs from ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and staged in St Paul’s Church Parkend. Not only was the cast young, but the production team also included older PYPs, learning production jobs for the future (see pictures page).

Review from The Citizen;

“What a confident and well developed group Parkend Young Players are. Hardly two years old they have made their collective debut with performances that were refreshing, enthusiastic and talented”.

A few PYPs went on to be cast as principles in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and A Christmas Carol.

In 2005 PYPs staged You, Me and Mrs Jones. We asked our Young Players what they would like to do and used some of the ideas from the meeting ‘Lets us hear what you want!’ They asked to do another production of their own.  They wanted comedy, violence and stunts. So Pip Deave searched for something that would involve everyone who wanted to be involved and be lots of fun to do. Pip wanted comedy with a serious message, not heavy and not long, something contemporary – something they could identify with. This play, by Tony Horitz, proved to be ideal.  A comedy set on the street where two unemployed teenagers, No-one and Nobody, meet a wide range of miscreants on their mission to find a ‘true hero’. During their search they are threatened with violence, relieved of their cash but ultimately they emerge from their experiences in the knowledge that they are indeed Some-one and Somebody and come to understand what is meant by the words ’true hero’. This fast-moving comedy had plenty of action but also carried with it a serious message about society. The story-line follows two ordinary teenagers on a quest for heroes “fit to save the day” through the murky worlds of street gangs, cranky religious sects, pop stars, television characters and vagrants, had plenty to offer our group of enthusiastic teenagers.  They got the opportunity to be lots of different characters, dress up, mess about… and engage in violence and stunts!  We tried to use their ideas as much as possible in the direction.  They also had the opportunity to help design posters, programmes and props … and had great fun with graffiti!

In 2006 we developed our Child Protection Policy, which has now been implemented. If you would information about how we developed this or would like to view it please contact our secretary.

PYPs have now had a play written for them, via The Talking Shop Project. Parkend Young Players were chosen to be involved in a pilot project in which a professional writer works with them to write a script.

We were delighted to welcome Jo Bousfield, from Stroud, to work with us to write a script with a playing time of about 30 minutes.  Jo is very experienced in working with Youth Drama, and runs the Flies on the Wall Youth Theatre in Stroud and Barnstorm, a drama and music camp held in the summer on May Hill.  She has been involved for twenty five years in drama in the county as an actor, director, workshop leader, music/dance/theatre collaborator, toddler dance leader and play-write.  She job-shares as County Theatre Development Co-ordinator as well as being freelance. Our first meeting took the form of a workshop in the Memorial Hall.  Fourteen Young Players between 9 and 16 years attended.  The session was very lively and once initial inhibitions had been overcome, there was no shortage of ideas for her to take away and develop! Jo then went away to think, and returned on two occasions with some ideas to run through. We now have the script called Shapeshifter and had a read through Saturday 20th January 2007.

The project is being run by the Centre for the Spoken Word (a charity supporting talking skills and verbal communication through the arts of conversation, debate, storytelling and playmaking) in partnership with Gloucestershire’s Theatre Production Office.  It is funded by Awards for All (a Lottery distributor) and the County’s Arts Development Fund. The long-term aim is to create a library of resources supporting the development of talking skills and oral literacy, for use by Gloucestershire schools, and youth groups.

In 2006 Sue Brand & Pip Deave organised workshops and theatre trips for our PYPs. For our younger members (5-12 years) a brand new version of the children’s classic The Emperor’s New Clothes presented by renowned Moving Hands Theatre who tell the story with a mixture of live performers, projections and pre-recorded imagery, puppets and audience participation. In conjunction with the production at Malvern Theatre, a 2 hour puppetry workshop was arranged at Parkend Memorial Hall.

The second trip was for older PYPs 12-18 years to see John Milton’s masterpiece Paradise Lost .Adapted for the stage by Ben Power & Directed by Rupert Goold

‘Here at least we shall be free.

Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven…’

Paradise Lost is an imaginative and richly theatrical vision of the Fall of Mankind. As exhilarating as it is profound, Milton’s extraordinary masterpiece is brought to life in Rupert Goold’s ambitious production. There was a workshop prior to the performance. Both workshops were funded by monies raised by PYP performances.

Below are reviews from our PYPs

The Puppet Workshop

This was an interesting and enjoyable morning spent with a lady from the puppet workshop. We started the morning by being told what we were going to do then we were shown various puppets that the puppeteers had used in previous plays. Then the fun started and we had the chance to make out own puppets. We were put into groups and worked together to make our own individual puppets that we then used later to present a puppet show of our own.

The workshop was very different from anything I had done before and I hope I will be invited to more fun activities like this. Sophie

The Emperor’ New Machine Moving Hands

I loved the king and his new machine especially the King. It was really funny when he came up the aisle naked. And I liked Cookie and Crumble too. It was really really funny when Cookie was stuck inside the machine at the end. Thank you very very much for taking us all out for a lovely day out. Ellie

Paradise Lost:

A group of six of the older “Young Players” went to Malvern Theatre to see the adaptation of John Milton’s epic poem “Paradise Lost”.  We started the day by going to a workshop led by a member of the production team.  We did a range of activities and exercises relating to the play, many of which had been done by the actors themselves to get into the characters and to make sense of the enormous task they were going to be involved in.  We took part in various exercises to do with hierarchy and how different classes and statuses behave and react to one another.  This was an important aspect of the play because of the fact there were people as almighty as God and Satan, and these people would act differently to someone like Adam or Eve.  Another exercise we tried was putting an apple in the centre of a table and having two sides arguing against each other trying to persuade Eve to eat the apple.  This related directly to the play itself in the way it was done because they used the table and apple as well, with Eve and Satan at either end.

The play itself was intriguing in many ways because it was so incredibly different to anything I had seen before.  It started dramatically with Satan and his followers in bloodstained white clothes appearing to be falling from Heaven into what they described as the darkness and despair of the pits of Hell. The simple set was a black room with a single fire exit door.  This changed to a white set for the Heaven scenes later. As the play developed the spectacular visual imagery continued.  Amazing feats seamlessly appeared before us, such as Satan and the Angel Gabriel floating in mid-air before a black background and amongst large suspended planets and stars. The naivety of Adam and Eve was emphasised by their innocent nudity.  Although startling at first, the fact that they were both naked didn’t seem to faze the actors, or audience.  It seemed normal for them to be without clothes, and when they started to get dressed at the end, it didn’t somehow fit.  They didn’t possess their beautiful innocence any more, but just seemed like any other normal modern city worker.

The play as a whole was very thought provoking.  John Milton’s twelve books were condensed into this successful play, where the language was hard to understand but was made understandable by the brilliant way it was portrayed. Laura

Three of our PYPs assisted our pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk production team with Stage Management, Lighting and Sound.