YOUNG OXTED PLAYERS SUMMER WORKSHOPS
Director - David Rowan
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.
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.
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
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".
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.