The Barn Theatre,
25 Bluehouse Lane, Oxted, Surrey
RH8 0AA.

Tel: 01959 561811
Email: barntheatre
@btinternet.com

 


The Young Oxted Players

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THE YOUNG OXTED PLAYERS SUMMER WORKSHOPS
Director - David Rowan

The Oxted Players have been arranging Summer Workshops for the younger members of the Society since 1999. We were extremely fortunate to be put in touch with David whose first project for The Young Oxted Players was adapting The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe with 24 children taking part. This was the first public performance by The Young Oxted Players and followed some "brainstorming" sessions to ascertain just what our young members wanted from their Society. Each year since they have suggested what should be done, and each year David has managed to provide us with a suitable script.

First of all they want to have fun - and even with the numbers growing steadily each year, David has kept them amused but busy, giving them all a sense of their own achievements and a wonderful grounding in theatre stagecraft.

The children really work well together as a team and get heavily involved with his or her own part, contributing to the portrayal of the character, helping each other with ideas. David is always willing to listen and to incorporate the ideas flowing from the children. On occasion our young members get the opportunity to take part in one of our adult productions and it is due to David's introduction to stagecraft and theatre work that shows through when they audition for those roles.

In 2000 David adapted The Jungle Book - an ideal classic - with 21 Young Players on stage and two behind the scenes involved in Lighting and Sound. The NODA rep wrote - "I was very impressed with the standard that had been achieved in the short period that had been allowed for casting, rehearsing and finally performing".

Just William was the choice for 2001. Every one of the children taking part had a speaking role and David had cleverly cast four boys in the main character part of William. The 25 children played 55 parts (including three trees) with two boys taking four different parts each with four different costumes! Again we involved the children in back stage duties - Stage Manager and Sound, with two others assisting Front of House.

The Marvellous Land of Oz was the popular choice for 2002 with 27 children - the word is getting around! One of David's great assets is the ability to involve every member of the workshop - sharing out the major roles, some main parts being played by two children, some children playing two parts. Even with the classics he has captured the imagination of the youngsters by introducing modern characters, such as for this production Poosh, Sportee, Babee Scaree and Sergeant Spears.

2003 saw a very clever adaptation of the well known Robin Hood tales - the title chosen was Robin Hood and the Children of Sherwood thereby providing the opportunity for many parts, keeping 23 children fully involved in 28 parts.

The children met our challenge in 2004 with a wonderful interpretation of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. David coped magnificently with 33 children on stage, again each one having his or her own part with one or two of the main characters being played by two different actors - four actors taking the part of Puck!

August 2005 saw David's adaptation of Animal Farm - another demanding script. Our numbers are increasing - 35 children took part, again each with a speaking part and costume. It was rewarding to see how the children coped with the animal/human aspect of their characters, at times emotional, strong, weak and humorous.

In August 2006, an ever growing number of enthusiastic children performed David's adaptation of The Wind in the Willows with all the characters from the book in a fullly costumed and very colourful productions.

August 2007 saw an adaptation of Pinocchio - a real challenge with 42 children and five Pinocchio's sharing the role cleverly interchanged throughout the play. Yet gain another colourful production fully costumed from the Oxted Players' own wardrobe store. As with previous productions the Young Players have also been involved on the technical side undertaking such duties as Stage Manager, Lighting Design and Sound Operation.

August 2008 saw the tenth anniversary of our Workshop and to mark this we reprised an updated version of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe with 40 performing chilkdren and six on the technical side.

In August 2009 the Youing Players performed an adaptation by David of Grimms Fairy Tales - a very comical and entertaining series of fairy tales. Again the talents of the children both on stage and off were highly praised.

August 2010 saw us return to Shakespeare with David's adaptation of various plays with "The Shakespeare Show" which proved to be the most ambitious yet. Children aged from 8 to 16, some of them tackling Shakespeare for the first time, performed an excellent and very amusing, colourful production which included excerpts from Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, Macbeth, As You Like It and others and they came away with a better understanding of Shakespeare's language, in addition to learning theatre skills.

In 2011 David re-visited Just William, with a new cast in a play about the antics of this rascally but lovable boy. With 40 children taking part between the ages of eight and 17, the role of William was shared by four children. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their week and the performance of the play on the Saturday was suggested by some to be the 'best ever'.

In August 2012 David brought us Dr. Frankenstein's School of Horrors. The Headmistress of St. Dunstan's School for Girls has mysteriously disappeared and been replaced by the sinister Professor Strange and his colleages Dr. Frankenstein and Dr. Dracula. The school girls discover the truth and rescue their captive Headmistress. The script was very funny and all those involved thoroughly enjoyed themselves, as did the audience on the performance night.

Our summer workshops now tend to be oversubscribed and our young members race to get their application forms back to us. David brings out the best in all the children - they have lots of fun while learning not only to be in front of an audience but some of the children are showing an ability for humour, others very dramatic roles. The venture into Shakespeare in particular was particularly pleasing for the Society. It is obvious that we have outstanding talented future adult Players. Some of the youngsters have been in every one of David's productions and indeed summer family holidays are planned to avoid the last week in August.

Music also plays a large part in the productions - again David's talent shows in this area - while the children thoroughly enjoy dressing up. The Society is very fortunate to have a fairly extensive wardrobe, and the adults have had almost as much pleasure finding suitable costumes for the varying roles over the years as the children.

A read through of David's script is held on the Sunday afternoon, the Workshops running from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday. A Dress Rehearsal is held on the Saturday afternoon or morning, with the performance starting at 7 p.m. on the Saturday evening to which family and friends are invited. It is a very busy and tiring week, but the pleasure and satisfaction everyone gains after the performance is huge.