Sixth form performs world premiere of new play to full house
Bolingbroke Academy was the venue for the world premiere of a brand new play this week, as part of a collaboration with the National Theatre (NT), which brings together some of the UK’s most exciting young writers with theatre’s future talent.
Performing to a full house, the ten strong cast of Stuff by Hull-based playwright Tom Wells, who also penned Jumpers for Goalposts, put in a sterling performance on the opening night on Wednesday, and received rapturous applause from the audience who were kept by turn on the edge of their seat by the tension, and roaring with laughter at the witty performances.
The cast of the ensemble piece included Theo Rooney in the role of Vinny, Dilan Polat as Frankie, Manuel Lavarez as Matt, Megan Rowland as Magda, Betty Smith as Stace, Eleanor Palmer as Kate, Orlagh Roberts as Dani, Dexter Greenwood as AJ and Zaynab Karim as Tez. The play was directed by Bolingbroke’s performing arts and LAMDA teacher and theatre coordinator Matthew Kalorkoti,while year 12 student Glen Travis acted as stage manager, operating the lighting and sound.
The cast have been rehearsing weekly since last November, and Mr Kalorkoti conceded it had been challenging finding the time to fit in the necessary rehearsals.
“With one two hour rehearsal per week, and the desire for in-depth character work around the table before getting the play on its feet, we did find ourselves feeling pushed for time. But I believe we have peaked in our performance this week, so it has panned out excellently.”
The play centres around Vinny who is trying to organise a surprise birthday party for his friend Anita. However, things aren’t going well and his choice of venue is somewhat misguided. Anita’s not very keen on leaving the house and everyone else is busy with the minutaee of their own lives.
With most of the cast on stage throughout the play at any given time, Mr Kalorkoti said that finding ways to rehearse independent activities which didn’t detract the focus from the main action but allow the characters to be impacted by it required a lot of time and attention to detail.
However, he said he was delighted by how well the opening night had gone, describing it as “stupendous”
“ I was thrilled seeing it all slot into place; we had reached the stage where an audience was our ‘missing piece’, and with them in the room providing the laughs the piece had a new flow and energy. I first read the play in August, and last night I recognised so much of what I envisioned back then becoming reality - but the best thing was seeing how much the pupils revelled in performing sharing this - slightly cheeky, but very full-hearted - play.”
Every year the National Theatre commissions ten new plays for young people to perform, bringing together some of the UK’s most exciting writers with the theatre’s stars of the future.
And the NT also provides behind the scenes support for theatres, including meeting the playwright and offering workshops on design and directing techniques, which Mr Kalorkoti said had really helped inform the rehearsal process.
And the Bolingbroke's Theatre Company is now in with the chance of performing Stuff at the National Theatre, along with other youth theatre groups and schools - if they are selected by the NT director, who visited the performance last night. Mr Kalorkot said it would be " a real coup" to be given the opportunity to put on the production at such a prestigious venue, but said it was now a waiting game until he heard back as to whether Bolingbroke has been selected to perform on the National's stage.
For those of you who missed out the play this week, it is transferring to the Lyric Hammersmith for one night only on Monday 29th April, so make sure you book up your tickets via lyric.co.uk for £5 each. (Lyric Hammersmith, 29th April, 8.30pm). Age guidance 14 +.