Pontefract pupils to take to the stage of the National Theatre

Pupils from Outwood Academy Hemsworth will be performing at the National Theatre.
Pupils from Outwood Academy Hemsworth will be performing at the National Theatre.

Pupils from one of the area's schools are to follow in the footsteps of the greatest names in acting by performing on one of the country's most prestigious stages.

The group from Outwood Academy Hemsworth is one of 10 from across the country that have been chosen to perform at the National Theatre in London as part of the largest youth theatre festival in the UK.

The performance will be part of the 2019 National Theatre Connections Festival, which takes place from June 25-29 and celebrates new writing for teenagers. This year’s festival will see 10 new plays, by both established and emerging playwrights, including Ben Bailey Smith, aka Doc Brown, being performed.

The plays were exclusively commissioned for this year’s festival and are specifically for young people to stage.

Eleanor Aldous, a teacher at OAH and the director of the production, said she was delighted pupils would get to perform on such a prestigious stage.

“Personally I have been involved with Connections for six years. I love having the chance to direct new writing and it’s a dream to be picked. I think when the students perform on a London stage it will be one of the proudest moments of my life. They have all worked so hard and I am so pleased for them.”

After initially applying to be part of Connections last year, the academy was successful in being one of 300 theatres and schools to stage 10 plays commissioned by the National Theatre.

They were assigned the production Variations, written by Katie Hims, to rehearse and perform locally. Katie has written for BBC Radio 4, including five seasons as lead writer on Home Front, and has written for long-running television series Casualty.

Toby Rutter, Principal of OAH, said: “At Outwood Academy Hemsworth we believe in putting students first, raising standards and transforming lives. We want our students to reach their potential, and we believe that it’s our job to offer them the opportunities to do this.

“We are lucky to have so many talented performers in our school, and the opportunity to be involved in productions like this is something our students will not forget.”

At one local performance by every school or company involved in Connections, a National Theatre director is present to give feedback and suggestions as to how to transfer the show from the home venue to a local professional theatre.

The students at OAH performed their production of Variations at York Theatre Royal and were then selected as one of the 10 companies to perform at the National Theatre to represent the range of exciting work being produced across the UK.

Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre, said, "National Theatre Connections brings together young theatre-makers from across the UK with today's most exciting playwrights. I look forward to watching the ten companies perform at this year's festival, as a reflection of the fantastic variety of productions which have been taking place in every corner of the UK throughout the year.

“We hope to inspire more young people in the art of theatre-making and the huge variety of backstage and offstage roles involved in creating a production".