Making a four-hour round trip to Stratford-on-Avon might not be the most sensible way to spend a Wednesday, but when the RSC’s A Tender Thing is at the other end, it’s more than worth the trip. Interviewing Edward Bond was a personal highlight, although he remains my most terrifying interviewee to date… Organising the Edinburgh Critics Team with Jake and C venues was wonderful – I’m delighted we were able to offer eight young people the chance to go to the Fringe and to get so much out of their time there. The Chekhov revivals across London (especially Uncle Vanya at the Print Room and The Seagull at Southwark Playhouse) have made me a very happy bunny, and in a year of Shakespeare, Theatre Delicatessen’s Henry V and Filter Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Lyric are my standout shows. I’ve rounded off the year seeing two wonderful Christmas shows: NIE’s Hansel and Gretel at the Tobacco Factory and Bristol Old Vic’s wonderful Peter Pan.
2012 has been a busy and really exciting time for the Features sections. We’ve chatted to Michael Grandage, Philip Ridley, Kate Tempest, Steven Berkoff and Jack Thorne to mention just a few. We had our biggest and best yet coverage of the Edinburgh Fringe and over the year our growing team of writers have profiled the work of Simon Stephens, The Paper Birds, English Touring Opera, Northern Broadsides, Edward Bond, the RSC and the Old Vic New Voices – and that’s just the tip of the ice berg as we went behind the scenes at theatres across the country and had exclusive content from the National Theatre Connections Directors’ Weekend.
As Features Editor, there have been so many highlights over the year and it’s been a privilege to work with the AYT team and all the dedicated features writers who invest so much time and energy into the pieces they write, whether they’re interviewing DC Moore, getting the exclusive info on London’s newest theatre or blogging about their experiences of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. On a personal note, I’ve loved some of the recent features I’ve worked on from TheatreCraft to Talawa Theatre Company’s new take on King Lear earlier this winter. In terms of stand out performances, Love Love Love at the Court was pretty unforgettable, as were Sixty Four Miles and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde at Hull Truck. I’ve still not seen Matilda – number one aim for 2013!
My AYT year was gently ushered in with a few words from Coney practitioners, scrawled on a scrap of paper: “undertaker”. This was one of the theatre company’s famous “days of play”, held at Battersea Arts Centre, where a group of us became immersed in the life of a small town, taking on roles and spreading gossip. It was a chance to meet people, to interact in new ways and to experiment. Things got raucous but I didn’t have to take out any dead bodies.
For another AYT feature earlier this year I met Fiona Lindsay, the Creative Producer of Digital Theatre Plus to hear about how this brilliant online theatre tool is putting great British theatre on a global stage, by making artistic, high-quality films of stage shows. I got to watch Frantic Assembly’s Lovesong in my own bed. It might not be able to bring it to your bedroom, but Shakespeare’s Globe is similarly keen to extend its reach, as I discovered when I spoke to the Education department’s Jamie Arden about Merry Meetings, the programme that brought seventeenth-century drama to Latitude Festival. They had to fight off the groupies.
Another annual festivity – for those involved at least – is the Old Vic New Voices, 24 Hour Plays, and it was a real pleasure to talk to some past writers, actors, producers and directors about the legacy of the project. I heard how being part of what director Steve Winter describes as the “OVNV family” has shaped them: “I always refer back to the 24 Hour Plays as being the project that made me realise anything was possible,” said Sophie Watson, one of last year’s participants.
And as the year draws to a close it’s looking like anything is possible for AYT too. It was a pleasure to represent AYT at last month’s TheatreCraft conference at the Royal Opera House, where we met so many budding theatre writers. But the main personal highlight for me this year was sub-editing the truly excellent work of the AYT reviewers up in Edinburgh over the summer. At my computer in South London I could practically smell the rancid beer mats, and it was a real treat to have the festival brought to life by such a talented team.
Ryan Ford Iosco
The reviews section of AYT has grown quite a bit over the last year. Our reviewers now attend shows regularly at venues such as the National Theatre, the Royal Court Theatre and the Almeida Theatre as well as promoting new/young companies that are just emerging. 2012 saw AYT review our first film, Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables (which will be out on 11 January 2013), as well as attend the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with a team of reviewers who covered an unimaginable amount of shows. AYT’s reviewers have been all over the UK and have covered many different aspects of the theatre world this year. As 2012 closes we are preparing for a 2013 that already looks busier and more exciting.
What have been the best AYT moments of 2012? Well, from a personal point of view, the articles I enjoyed writing the most tend to hail from the beginning of the year: interviewing Louise Rennison, who was both wonderfully mad and incredibly interesting; finding out more about female-led theatre with Shared Experience’s Polly Teale; writing about crowdfunded theatre and subsequently getting my first article published on the Guardian website. There have been many wonderful moments working with AYT’s bloggers: the great content that our regular contributors turn out week after week; connecting with theatre lovers from across the Atlantic; publishing brilliant guest blogs (such as this one and this one). And, finally, I couldn’t round up the year without mentioning how rewarding it is be part of a site that has produced outstanding Edinburgh coverage and collaborated with some wonderful organisations (the Royal Opera House! The Guardian! C venues! TheatreCraft!) So, a big thank you to all of AYT’s editors, writers and readers of 2012. It’s been a pleasure.
Founder and Artistic Director
Reading through the AYT Editors 2012 Highlights above, I am left immensely proud. When I founded A Younger Theatre in 2009 I had no idea that some three years later we’d be partnering with the Royal Opera House, unleashing a team of critics at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival or that we’d pass 8,500 followers on Twitter. AYT is built and maintained by a wonderful team of young people who pour their time, hearts and energy into making it a success. So firstly, a big thank you to all our writers and Editorial Team.
2012 was a curious year for theatre. We saw an influx of German practitioners shaking up British theatre with the likes of Thomas Ostermeier’s Hamlet, Sebastian Nubling’s direction of Simon Stephens’s Three Kingdoms and Cate Blanchett in Gross und Klein. LIFT Festival threw up some challenging pieces including Back To Back’s Ganesh vs the Third Reich, and an epic eight-hour performance of Gatz by Elevator Repair Service. In children’s theatre I was transfixed by Little Angel Theatre’s The Tear Thief and Mark Arends’s Something Very Far Away at the Unicorn Theatre. Whilst in Edinburgh I was left weeping at And No More Shall We Part at the Traverse Theatre, and positively bursting with energy at Charlotte Josephine’s Bitch Boxer. Let’s not forget the flop that is Viva Forever! which made me question why we even make theatre, terrible, terrible theatre.
In my blogging I found myself questioning how I respond to theatre in an apology to Melanie Wilson, and later considering how theatre and emotion are entwined after the death of a family member. Then there are the numerous events AYT hosted with our readers, including a digital takeover of the Royal Opera House, live blogging The Junction’s Sampled Festival, and two trips to the Old Vic Theatre. We were media partners with C venues at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and also for TheatreCraft at the Royal Opera House.
Our writers have contributed 905 posts to A Younger Theatre, generating nearly a million pageviews. All of this delivered by volunteers under the age of 26, and showing that young people have a passion for theatre just as much as everyone else. Bring on 2013.
Article image by Jen Collins.