I had the pleasure of producing National Theatre Connections between 2011 - 2015.
Connections began 20 years ago when teachers and directors told us that they wanted exciting and challenging new plays for young actors. Since then the NT has commissioned and published more than 140 plays for Connections, giving young people aged 13-19 across the UK and Ireland access to the very best new writing for theatre.
Connections gives young people experience of professional theatre-making. Their experience mirrors that of a company producing a new play in any theatre in the country. They create marketing campaigns, design sets and costumes, operate lighting and sound boards, stage-manage their performances. In 2013, each company had the experience of performing in a leading regional theatre, at one of the Connections festivals around the country.
Each year the Connections team travels the length and breadth of the country to support and encourage the participants – the drama teachers and youth theatre directors who take on the challenge of staging a new play, and the young theatre companies. Each year I am thrilled by the skill, creativity, commitment and passion that go into each production, often on a shoestring budget and a rehearsal schedule carved out around school commitments.