In 2014 the inaugural WA Youth Theatre Ensemble program was launched. This is a year-long program providing training and skill development for the top tier of our members under the tutelage of a professional director - in 2014 this artist is Jeffrey Jay Fowler, the current Associate Artistic Director for Black Swan State Theatre Company)
The plan: Year number One
Ensemble members are chosen via auditions and awarded the opportunity to engage with the year-long program of weekend workshops and devising work culminating in the development, rehearsal and presentation of a new company-generated devised work to be staged at the end of their year's work together.
We have begun by bringing together our first extraordinary group of young artist. This year's WA Youth Theatre Ensemble is: Sofie O'Mara, Izzy McDonald, Ben Constantin, Tallulah Starkie, David Mitchell, Elise WIlson, Nic Doig and Catherine Bonny,
Over the past several months Jeffrey Jay Flowler and the ensemble have been working together with the vision of putting on a self devised play at the end of the year. This process has been different to many other pieces I've worked on. While developing our performance skills Jeffrey has given us direction as to how we are able to create theatre and put our ideas into action. The long term process of working together over the year has allowed us to bring together a well thought out piece that has the entire ensembles contribution. We have had the time to explore various styles of theatre and discuss ideas and issues that interest us that we would like to see on stage.
As a performer I am finding this process extremely rewarding. I have gained invaluable knowledge and experience and I am very excited for the the play to go up later this year.
- Sofie O'Mara, 2014 Ensemble Member
The year's work is one part actor training, one part devising process, one part professional developement and one part performance: a cumulative process exposing talented performers and artist to new ideas, building up these artists to manage their own independent developement and a showcase of their talent to the wider community.
The company's commitment to providing a bridge for our talented community of young artists has been made manisfest with the initiation of the Ensemble Company Program. This is the WA Youth Theatre Company's ultimate offering to members as part of our commitment to building real career pathways for them - bridges toward employment and additional, specialised training opportunities.
This is our first company to be auditioned and trained and so far the promise of the program is proving to be everything we have been hoping for:
The WAYTCo ensemble, in my opinion as a member, is an extremely progressive idea in terms of developing young people who are serious about pursuing their acting careers.
The ensemble is a wonderful teaching process, unique in that it is lead by the director - in this case well known theatre maker and Associate Director at the Black Swan Theatre Company Jeffrey Jay Fowler. It allows us to explore multiple technique for creating theatre in practice; improvising; finding character’s objective, etc.; It is also a hands on experience has allowed me, and I’m sure the other seven members as well, to discover what it would be like to work as a professional actor.
Because the process involves actually devising a piece of theatre together it has called for us all to work together and pinpoint an understanding with what we want as a final show. Over the period of the ensemble workshops so far I have learnt that the experience is not about just me as an actor but as a group of actors discovering others interests and what they hope to finish with. In the beginning of our work together there was a lot of work on technique as actors and finding through points for characters and relationships between characters as well as talking about our interests as people and what kinds of subjects we feel make for interesting theatre.
As our meetings continued we began to see how we all worked, and what kind of piece we would eventually be able to make. A subject then started to appear involving things like ‘ownership’, ‘boundaries’, ‘intruders’, ‘rules’, what it is to be Australian and who the people are at the top (who make the rules) and what if they were even more present in our lives.
We’re currently working on a piece that takes place in an isolated community where everyone owns a pool (also known as the mantelpiece of a stable home in this circumstance) and the local council makes rules in reference to peoples lives that have to be followed otherwise they will be seen as a danger to the community and replaced. We are excited now to bring this to an audience!
As the process is beginning to draw to a close I firmly believe that the WA Youth Theatre Company’s goal to create theatre by young people, for young people has been achieved through this ensemble. Working with this chosen group, all with the same intent to create a great piece has not only given me experience, but also hope of one day using my skills I have gained in professional acting.
- David Mitchell, 2014 Ensemble Member.
The Production: Fish Out Of Water (Drop Dead)
The November season of FISH OUT OF WATER (DROP DEAD) played at the newly revitalised MosArts/Camelot Theatre, Mosman Park.
It was a wonderful success: shockingly funny, captivating, arresting and thought provoking. And all bravely presented mere inches from the audience on a beautifully simple catwalk stage in the midst of the classic art deco theatre. A wonderful symbol to present our new blood using innovative ideas to revitalise an ancient art-form.
We are very proud of the results of the program and to further promote this company of generous artists.
Thank you and congratulations to the 2014 WA Youth Theatre Ensemble!