NYTC set to grow up at CarriageWorks

24 of Australia’s best young artists will soon have the chance to show Sydney their skills as National Youth Theatre Company launches its brand new production Growing Up at CarriageWorks Bay 20 from August 31.

24 of Australia’s best young artists will soon have the chance to show Sydney their skills as National Youth Theatre Company launches its brand new production Growing Up at CarriageWorks Bay 20 from August 31.

Growing Up is a collection of vignettes around the theme of moving through adolescence into adulthood. Ideas for the vignettes were conceived by the actors themselves – all aged between 15 and 25 – then presented to a team of respected Australian playwrights for development. The result is a dynamic collection of individual narratives set against the world of Steampunk. The playwrights include Van Badham, Alex Broun, Jason Childs, Lindsay Farris, Jono Gavin, Virginia Gay, Ned Manning, James Millar, Kirby Medway, Kate Mulvany, Lachlan Philpott, Mary Rachel-Brown, Rebekah Smith, Georgina Symes and Lucie Stevens.

“For the first three weeks of development, we did a lot of brainstorming and play-building to come up with some stimuli and we came up with a list of phrases that came from this idea of growing up,” Artistic Director Lindsay Farris told AussieTheatre.com.

“We had this really wide sourcing of writers and they all pulled together this smaller vignette and then we worked on that. There’s a protagonist who kind of acts as an observer throughout each of those stories and then ties it all up in a nice little bow.”

Growing Up is one of three new shows under development by NYTC, whose company also includes an education focused program for younger performers (under 16) and a program for emerging regional artists.

“The (regional) company’s primarily a showcase company that aims to bridge the gap by doing a lot of developmental stuff with those kids and trying to have an industry showcase that’s focused on performance training – that has strong links to try and provide a vehicle for those kids,” Farris said.

“Every year I come out and teach in regional Australia with rural communities and it’s kind of heartbreaking. I met down here one year who’s such a brilliant performer, and he came and said to me that ‘he really likes this Shakespeare fellow.’ He’d just been introduced to Shakespeare and his work was just phenomenal. ‘But my dad doesn’t think acting’s really a job, and I don’t know – I’ve got no friends out here that like it.’ So, in terms of his dilemma, he was held off from gaining a career purely because of isolation and without strong tangible links to platform him from his environment, to even give it a shot.”

Maximising accessibility is a priority for NYTC, and Farris pushes the variety of talent involved across the three companies.

“The senior company acts as the foundation for the two junior companies so that we can have an educative platform (and) the regional program… You’ve got kids from performing arts high schools, and other kids who aren’t necessarily brilliant actors, but who are great story tellers,” Farris said.

Both industry and participant response has been extremely positive, with 120 applicants responding to the first callout for interviews. 

“Our industry is one that wants to see people flourish, in a lot of ways and then also be challenged in their own particular skill set. I think our company is certainly a vehicle for that. In terms of our extended team, there’s about 180 people working with us,” Farris said.

Among those 180 is film-maker Sunny Abberton (Bra Boys), who will be using the last seven weeks of rehearsals as the basis for a documentary.  Abberton also serves as NYTC’s Creative Development Officer.

“If you look at competitors and competition,” Farris explains, “I don’t think that ours is an industry that needs to compete internally. At the moment we’re competing with things like multimedia – the fact that it’s so hard to get people out of the house, when it’s so easy to just pick up a DVD  or go on YouTube and all those different forms of electronic media, so that’s where our competition lies. It’s about integrating those media platforms into your dynamic to try and survive as an industry as a whole.”

While there are no firm plans beyond the current productions, the company is optimistic about its future.

“If the shows are well received and we can produce some quality work, we would love to have it as an ongoing system. Based on the reception and the company feedback, we can hopefully get that up into a fully fledged company for new work over the coming year. And there is a plan to launch a duplicate of the system we have in NSW in the major states and territories so we can tour productions between states,” Farris said.

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