Too many writers writing for young people think they have to pack it with alcohol abuse and violence.
Not so Greg Mosse – and that’s why Jack Northeast is delighted to direct his new play for the Festival of Chichester. Self-Help will be staged in St John’s Chapel by 19+, a new group of young performers just moving on from Chichester Festival Youth Theatre (Saturday, June 20, 2pm; Sunday, June 21, 2pm; Wednesday, June 24, 2pm).
Jack, himself steeped in the youth theatre, is delighted to be working on the piece.
Jack was working freelance when he had a call from Chichester Festival Youth Theatre director Dale Rooks asking him if he was interested in directing Greg’s play.
“Straight away I was up for it. Back when I was an apprentice at the youth theatre, I had done some directing for it. I met up with Greg and read the script and absolutely loved it. It was just the perfect piece for me to work on. All the characters are a year or so younger than me, and I just found them all really relatable. I find a lot of people that write plays for young people are out of touch. You find the language just isn’t how someone of my age would speak, and it is usually about alcohol abuse or violence. But then every now and again, you come across a writer like Greg that really nails this age group. It really comes alive.
“And what makes this play so interesting are the situations. Four girls and one guy are homeless, but there is also the optimism of the piece. With theatre for young people, it is very easy to go very depressing, and there are some darker themes within it, but ultimately, it is a very optimistic play. The goal of all the people in the drama is to better themselves and to get out of their situation, and that’s what makes it so great and so alive. I am very keen to work as closely with Greg as possible, but he is also very keen to say ‘I have written it and now you go off and do something with it.’ He keeps saying to me ‘I am happy to support you, but this is your piece now.’ It is great to have that trust. But I am very keen to keep him very much on board, and he definitely is very much on board.”
The hope is maybe one day to tour the piece, but shorter term, if things go well, there might just be a chance to put the play forward for a London showcase: “We have just got to make it work.”
Jack, aged 21, joined Chichester Festival Youth Theatre in 2008 and appeared in main-house youth theatre productions at the CFT including The Snow Queen, Alice in Wonderland and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. He also appeared in the summer production The Fireworkmaker’s Daughter.
“At the moment, I work for the youth theatre freelance. But everything I am doing right now stems from my time with the youth theatre. After I finished in the youth theatre, I became an apprentice at the CFT in the learning and participation department.”
And on the back of that, Jack spent six months last year touring in Italy with an Italian theatre company made up of English people – an amazing experience: “I got to see every major part of the north of Italy. I learnt so much about what it is to be a part of a different culture and also about how to work together. When you are 19 or 20 and travelling with four people and performing six days a week, it is just such an incredibly-valuable experience to have at that age.”
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