Every year the Nuffield Theatre runs Hampshire Youth Theatre (HYT), which is an annual project for 14-21 year olds . This year 48 young people will perform Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, and throughout the process members of the company will work with theatre professionals from the Nuffield, to create a production that will play in the theatre’s main house for four nights.
Sam Hughes, playing Pip, and Emma Uden, playing Estella, were interviewed alongside Chris Cox and Laurie McNamara about their experiences with HYT, and this production.
You’re a few days into rehearsal now, how’s HYT been so far?
Chris: It’s the fourth year I’ve done HYT, but the first time I’ve not been involved as an actor-musician. It’s a nicer experience being more hands on with the acting and having a bigger role. It’s nice coming back as well, as I know a few people but there’s a significant number of new people this year, which is really fun.
Sam: It’s just a crazy new experience you’re thrown into.
Laurie: Yeah and it’s really nice having every day being different and getting really involved in everything.
Emma: Everyone’s really friendly though, and it’s amazing how you all come together straight away and just get on with what you have to do. We aren’t wasting any time!
What are your future ambitions?
Emma: I want to be an actor, so I’m aiming to go to drama school when I’ve finished college.
Laurie: Same, I’d like to act.
Sam: Anything on the backstage side of theatre. At the moment, I’m heading towards stage management or something similar. Seems like it has a bit more security than acting!
Chris: I’d actually like to be a musician.. I play drums, guitar and piano, so I’d love to be in a contemporary band or be a session musician.
How do you think HYT has helped you develop as an actor and how has it set you up for the future?
Emma: It’s very detailed compared to other drama I’ve done. You get much more into the character and back story and all the intricacies of it. We’re acting on a higher level than we’ve had the opportunity to before, which is great. It’s much more in depth than A-Levels.
Laurie: And it really feels like you aren’t on your own doing that. Sometimes in school, you feel like you’re the only person who’s taking it further.
Emma: Here everyone is putting in the extra effort! It’s intense but in a good way. It isn’t like you’re spending weeks working on a mediocre play, but only have a really short time to get something to be amazing.
Chris: It’s really true that the more you put into it, the more you get out. Aside from the acting, I think HYT gives really good life skills too. It’s a real confidence builder and I’ve found it has helped me when applying for jobs or going to interviews. But it is a really good experience of the industry, because you’re treated like professionals and get to spend all day every day doing something and not just one evening a week.
Sam: It gives a good foundation and it’s really good for building trust, especially the physical theatre workshop we did with Frantic Assembly. We just had to do lifts and throws with people we didn’t know that well, so we didn’t have time to worry!
What are you looking forward to most about this year’s HYT?
Chris: I always look forward to the last few days of rehearsal, when you do the first run throughs before the technical period.
Laurie: Yes, it’s really nice to see everything suddenly come together, because we all work apart separately over the rehearsal period. It’s like putting a jigsaw together.
Sam: I love the feeling just after a show, when you come offstage and realise how awesome the show is!
Emma: It’s a great feeling, especially because you aren’t saying it to yourself, it’s just everyone telling everyone else how amazing it was.
Sam: It’s a really tight bond that’s created between everyone and I think that we’ll all make good friendships from HYT.
What does HYT mean to you?
Sam: It’s a step in furthering your career. It’s the first really big scale show in a professional venue I’ve done.
Emma: The word that comes to mind is ‘company’. It’s that feeling of togetherness and about building something for our audience. Everyone is so much more driven and passionate than other shows I’ve been in.
Laurie: It’s being in a team of people, who all have the same mindset and ambition, because everyone has fought to be here and feels privileged to be involved.
Chris: It’s really refreshing to be with people who are all on the same page and think in the same way.
What is the most fun part of HYT?
Laurie: Trying new things, like the Frantic workshop. It isn’t just standing onstage and reading lines – you turn up expecting that and then Max just throws us into something completely different.
Emma: Taking everything further than you think and expect to, not just blocking the show and line learning.
Chris: Having a laugh with everyone, even when you’ve done something wrong, and then everyone just getting straight back into working on the show.
Describe HYT in 3 words.
Challenging. Exciting. Rewarding.
Great Expectations will be performed at the Nuffield Theatre on 4-7 September 2013 at 7.30pm each night. Tickets are available here.