Darcy in Happylandia at the Howard Assembly Room

City Varieties Youth Theatre is performing a selection of self-penned works at the Howard Assembly Room on 10th December.

The CVYT is a fab company offering opportunities for young people aged eight to 17-years-old. Though during the summer they put on a classic well-known show, it’s great that their winter show gives the group chance to try something different – including writing their own pieces, directing and set design.

In response to the question ‘what matters to you?’, the older groups have created several pieces under the umbrella title sensa, whilst the 8 to 11-years-old will be performing Darcy in Happylandia. This play has been written by 12-year-old Olivia Mee with input from Abby Marshall aged 11. Of course this has been meticulously overseen by Artistic Director Lizi Patch, so I think we can expect a high quality of work. Trust me, I’ve seen improvisation sketches from young people and – though they’re incredibly imaginative – they need an adult’s helping hand.

Olivia said: “I have been a member of the City Varieties Youth Theatre for around five years and I really enjoy it because you are able to be yourself. I was inspired to write my script by Lizi writing our original pieces; I wondered what it would be like to write one myself. Writing a script is a lot of hard work but it is the best feeling hearing someone read your words. It’s amazing!”

Co-writer Abby added: “I particularly enjoy the opportunities I get at the Youth Theatre, including writing script. I’ve enjoyed adding in stage direction, humour and learning how to make the narration rhyme. I am really looking forward to seeing how it all turns out.”

Lizi Patch also added: “My long career as a youth theatre director is fuelled by the honour of helping the young artists I work with to find and develop their creative passion. This is one of the best new plays I have read for a young cast for a very long time. It has a tight plot, well-rounded characters, humour and pathos.”

I really hope Lizi is just talking about new plays written by the youth theatre – because, if not, I find it unacceptably patronising to suggest a twelve-year-old can outshine the scriptwriting talents of a professional adult trained specifically to write for a young audience.

Nevertheless, it’s still fantastic to see young people being given the opportunity to learn and grow as the future generation of our theatre talent! Break a leg, guys!

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