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
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
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
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'.
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
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.