National Youth Theatre’s social inclusion course ‘Playing Up’ present Tiny Dancers by Isley Lynn
I have always been a huge fan of the National Youth Theatre and the extraordinary work they do with young people. Their programme Playing Up is no exception, it is one of the few places that offer a free high calibre theatre training course which gives young people ages 19-24 years, who may have struggled at home and/or with the education system an opportunity to study the Theatre Arts whilst also furthering their education. This Access to Higher Education Diploma in Theatre Arts is equivalent to 2 A-Levels. Playing Up is delivered by a team of talented theatre professionals and it not only gives the young people a great foundation for the theatre world but also supports their emotional well-being.
In the light of Covid-19, NYT like many other arts organisations could no longer operate face to face and therefore had to find other ways to deliver their regular services and keep in touch with their young people. So when lockdown commenced NYT decided to take their programme online, which has meant the young company, staff team and creatives had to quickly adapt creatively to this new platform.
Lockdown has created endless challenges for us all and not least for the world of theatre which has been blown apart over the past few months. But creativity lives on. It is a feat of brilliance that the National Youth Theatre’s Playing Up company have created an original and imaginative performance piece – Tiny Dancers on YouTube – regardless of the many obstacles and I was lucky enough to watch the premiere.
Tiny Dancers, written by Isley Lynn and devised by the young company is a series of sketches touching on life and death and everything in between, cleverly interlaced to depict the experiences of lockdown. Director Milli Bhati has constructed a montage of fast paced scenes woven together from monologues and separately filmed duologues. They are an exciting combination of the funny, quirky, dark and bizarre.
Scenes of couples sharing a Zoom dinner from their separate homes, an uncomfortable gynaecological medical examination, ancestry time travel, a TV hard man and crime buster, murder in the form of a gruesome knife attack, couples counselling and much more… Along with topical references to COVID, “I’ve got it, have you got it too?” there are challenges around gender – choice versus “it’s not a choice”, and most powerfully Black Lives Matter – “anger and uprise is our only solution”.
The editing is a marvel, effortlessly transitioning between scenes and punctuated by wonderfully offbeat isolation dancing in the bedroom kitchen or on the garden wall. The young actors are strong and charismatic performers who have really made the most of a very difficult situation.
TINY DANCERS will be available to watch online between 23rd – 31st July on our YouTube page
Trigger Warnings: Tiny Dancers contains strong language and content related to alcoholism, self-harm (discussed), swearing, depictions of violence, police brutality (discussed) and homophobia. If you’d like any more information contact us on email@example.com
Writer – Isley Lynn
Director – Milli Bhatia
Sound Designer / Composer / Filmmaker – Matt Farthing
Movement Director – Brian Duffy
Company Stage Manager – Grace Lewis
Associate Director / Playing Up Course Assistant – Libby Devereux
Associate Director – Edward Hill
Interpreter – Matt Kyle
Film Consultant – Carolina Giammetta
Playing Up Manager and Production Coordinator – Simone Waller
Playing Up Manager – Emily Doherty
Associate Director – Anna Niland
Playing Up Cast
Alaska Couprie, Alexandra Charles, Alfayd Raji, Alisha Dyer-Spence, Amelia Rodger, Aneeza Ahmed, Beth Levy, Bethlehem Wolday-Myers, Cainan Farrah, Jack Hyland, Jonathan Price, Kai Johnson, Kai Jerdioui, Kc Gardiner, Lauren Allen, Leah Besson, Mars Sams, Oliver Brewer, Omar McDonald, Patrick Ashe, Viktor Sceniavskij, Yasmin Twomey, Yoseph Ariyah.
About Playing Up
Playing Up is an OCN Level 3 accredited 10-month drama training programme, offering young people aged 19 – 24 who are not in Education Employment or Training the opportunity to gain an Access to Higher Education Diploma in Theatre Arts, which is equivalent to 2 ‘A’ Levels. It is free at the point of access and champions diverse young talent that needs a fresh start or second chance. It is a vital alternative route back into the education system or straight into the creative industries and offers travel bursaries and offers pastoral, academic and career progression support to young people on the course.