Almost 40 York students have been invited to take part in this year’s National Student Drama Festival. Held in Scarborough from 9-15 April, the annual event aims to be ‘a celebration of young talent as well as an introduction to the pathways into the profession’, uniting actors and production teams from both student and professional spheres.
Over 650 students are invited from Universities across the country, amassing a total of 60 performances and 180 workshops. Israel Horovitz’s Line, directed by Jonathon Carr, has been selected as one of the 13 shows to be part of the festival, York’s first show to be chosen since 2008. Carr deems the festival to be the “height of student theatre,” and to be involved “is a sign of the quality of the Drama Society at York”. Other dramatists who have been invited to attend the festival and take part in the numerable workshops include the entire cast and production team of Ta Ra Love, Bye Bye Love, Giles Littlewood for Howling Moon, and Tom Vickers for Bepo.
York’s reputation in Scarborough is already grounded, the 2008 production of Metamorphosis directed by Alexander Wright, was met with critical acclaim at the festival, winning a host of awards, and in 2009 Abigail Richardson won the award for outstanding contribution to sound. However never before has York had such a high selection ratio – last year less than 10 students attended the festival. Chris White was a nominated actor in 2010 for Mojo, and this year as a writer and director for his play Ta Ra Love and an actor in Line. White says it is an “overwhelming honour” to be representing the University at the festival, and feels “although the show didn’t get picked to be performed, being picked as ensemble members means the cast and myself could audition for their national show and be part of the professional workshops.”
The students will have to produce theatre that works not only on a local level, but that can stand its ground on a national scene. Josh Robson, lighting technician for Line, also selected as technician for The Drunks, is all too aware of this; “with the barn I know all the equipment very well, also I’ve always had a week to tinker with the lights, whereas I go up this Saturday saying what I want for the show, and when I next go up, it’s the day of the show. There is no margin for error.”
Line opens the festival on the 9th and the week will culminate in an award ceremony between the 13 selected shows which White feels “will hopefully see York University win some.” Carr is also confident in the success of York theatre: “we will be bigger, better, bolder and brighter. We are prepared for the challenge.”