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Review: S’Warm, National Youth Theatre

Posted on 19 August 2010 Written by

The National Youth Theatre (NYT) are thinking big this summer and making a rather loud buzz about it. If you find yourself looking at a 500 strong cast dressed in white boiler suits and declaring “Time is running out”, don’t panic… but do listen to their message.

S’warm is the NYT tackling a global issue – the rapid demise of bees across the world – and they will be taking over some of London’s biggest and well known landmarks this week, and you’ll be a fool to miss it.

Did you know that Einstein calculated that if all the bees in the world disappeared over night the whole human race would cease to exist after 4 years? It might seem like a random statement to make, but S’warm is all about raising awareness to this growing concern that bees are disappearing and global warming is here – and we have to do something about it.

Arriving at the Battersea Power Station you’d be mistaken to think we were queuing up to enter the derlict building site as workmen – aside from a lack of hard hats and overalls. We are ushered into the section in front of the power station which acts as the background to this momentous event. Starting as a promenade piece we are led by our navigator through a series of tableaux of the actors and musicians setting the doomsday atmosphere to S’warm. There is the repeated motif of the event shouted, whispered, sung in every direction – “time is running out”.

A stylistic approach to the reactions of our attitudes to global warming as a nation is in the form of numerous performers reciting the same lines and actions on repeat across the performance space, “The thing about global warming food is… it’s all too expensive” – a fact I’m sure we’d all secretly admit to saying.

Yet it is when we are lined up as an audience that the real joy begins for S’warm. Hundreds… yes, hundreds of performers flood the space, they run, form lines, repeat actions, gestures, dialogue, stare into our eyes, collide with each other in chaos – they mimic the very subject matter being laid out for us – together we are united, alone we are nothing.

A wonderful storyline is spun in the form of the Queen Bee dying and the next to take her place needs to be found – but how can this happen when the bees are slowly disappearing in population? Through a series of cheorgraphed sequences and spoken text in unison we witness 500 performers creating a spectacle for the eye. It is breathtaking. Not to forget some haunting and completely mesmerising music from some of the NYT participants – including the alluring song of the Queen Bee herself.

There is no way of describe the 45 minute presentation of S’warm in any other manner than epic. With such an iconic London building looming over us, and spurred on by hundreds of synchronised performers I am left somewhat emotionless. It is not that S’warm is lifeless, it is anything but! It is beautifully choreographed, poignant, it creates a shiver down your spine and is a wake up call, but even all of this can’t take away the fact that whilst we go about our daily lives our environment is being destroyed around us.

Will the bees eventually die? Will Earth survive another 2000 years as it has done? How can I know the children of the future, the next year, and the next year after that of NYT participants will survive what we have already done to our world? This is why I am emotionless – S’warm is a shock to the system, and I felt it loud and clear.

S’warm is just the beginning – the real action comes from raising awareness and acting upon it.

NYT have proven that as an organisation not only do they nurture the creative talent of tomorrows performers, they unite them to send a message to the world. NYT – S’warm – BEE in it to win it.

S’warm is flying into well known landmarks this week. For more information on where to catch it see the IdeasTap website. If you’re interested in joining the National Youth Theatre, their website includes a wealth of knowledge for auditioning and becoming the future of our industry. Enjoy!

Jake Orr

Jake Orr

Jake is the Artistic Director and Founder of A Younger Theatre. He is a freelance writer and blogger, a theatre marketer and a digital producer. He is also Co-Curator of Dialogue.

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  1. Review: Relish, National Youth Theatre | A Younger Theatre Says:

    [...] bring to life  Victorian cookery. As seen in other NYT work this season and most notable in their recent hive of activity in S’warm the heart of Relish lies in the fine execution of ensemble [...]

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