Newbury Youth Theatre - The Glorious Invention of Emmanuel Stork
29th July 2017 and at the Edinburgh Fringe from 8th to 13th August.
Review from the Newbury Weekly News.
Look out Edinburgh… here we come!
Newbury Youth Theatre Edinburgh preview: The Glorious Invention of Emmanuel Stork, at the Corn Exchange, Newbury, on Saturday, July 29
Newbury is justly proud of its youth theatre, resident at the Corn Exchange, and their latest production The Glorious Invention of Emmanuel Stork, en route for the Edinburgh Fringe, shows the company at its very best.
Without exception, this young team, confident and at ease on stage, combined dramatic ability and spot-on timing. A minimally-staged production, place and objects were evoked through magically inventive ensemble work and choreography. The text, along with original songs and rhyming verse, was uniformly well spoken and intelligently delivered. As important, the underlying message could not have been more pertinent.
Invention, energy fun and commitment were evident from the imaginative opening sequence. Dressed like the Whitby fishermen and women in Frank Meadow Sutcliffe's celebrated 19th-century photographs, the cast gradually assembled on stage, their half-painted faces suggesting a touch of' 'Flower Power' idealism. Barrels became improvised percussion, the shouts of a bustling fish market building to an accompanying chant.
The play follows the tribulations of 18-year-old Jack Coleman, who leaves his mist-encircled island home in search of the father who abandoned him, leaving him only a book with the instruction 'Find Me'. We follow Jack as he puts to sea, is shipwrecked, and found on a beach by a ululating people who speak another tongue, but find a way to communicate. They're led by a woman, so it's bound to work out well.
Another voyage, tiny lights suggesting the luminescent fish of the deep, an escape from the giant fish Schmoo, and a meeting with three giants who want 'more, more, more', then spew out their rubbish. Most scary of all. Jack finds himself in a call centre; a nightmare of targets, evaluations, and meaningless, ever-looping and never-resolved phone options. Give me combat with the Schmoo any day. Jack does, of course, find his lost father, 'ES – Emmanuel Stork', in his deep-sea laboratory, obsessed with his machine: a brilliantly evoked piece of ensemble work. Cue for a crash and re-boot.
Important questions are posed. Why are we too caught up in consumption and selfishness to look out for others or see the damage we're doing to Mother Earth? Why do we allow so little room for altruism or giving? Why do we so often fear, rather than celebrate, the differences between us?
Devised by the company, written by Tony Trigwell-Jones, directed by Amy and Tony Trigwell-Jones, and produced by Robin Strapp, with members of the company also undertaking all production roles, this is one of the best productions NYT has staged, with one of its best casts. They're bound to wow the Fringe.
A look back at Edinburgh.
Newbury Youth Theatre have had a wonderful week at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with their latest play The Glorious Invention of Emmanuel Stork. It's played to two sell-out performances and packed audiences throughout the run, NYT producer Robin Strapp reports.
NYT have had some excellent reviews, with Mary Woodward from ScotsGay giving four stars for: "Yet another masterly production from Newbury Youth Theatre, with an entertaining mix of songs, movement, mask work, puppetry and a light show in this tale told in verse. The opening is superb and the inventiveness continues. The cast continually engage the audience in their actions and words, drawing much laughter from both adults and children at the witty word play and the fantastical scenarios. Full marks to NYT for invention, creativity, talent, confidence, personality and audience engagement; all of which make an excellent afternoon's entertainment."
The 730 Review, a new online arts magazine said: "Features a breadth of talents, from extraordinarily catchy original songs to malleable ensemble-driven movement sequences. It is very clear that this company have worked together tirelessly to become a tight-knit ensemble and the results spoke for themselves. It was clear that the young actors were entirely invested in their own material and this proved to be utterly infectious. A brilliant blend of fantasy and reality, this is one of the finest family show you could wish for at this year's Fringe. 4 Stars."
Living and working together has been excellent fun as they learnt the joys of cooking their own food. Some of the cast assembled at 7.30 for the 12k run up Arthur's seat to its rocky summit with magnificent views over the city.
At the morning briefing meeting, notes were given to tweak the show and the cast shared their good show bad show experiences as they planned their evening's entertainment.
They managed to give away 8,000 fliers on the mile and entertained the vast crowds with a selection of songs from the show. The discovery of a Graze on Grassmarket meant that lunchtimes became very healthy eating, with high praise for the food.
The daily walk along the Edinburgh Union Canal has been a delight, away from the traffic, and reminded everyone of home.
They have all visited former NYT member's show Hambone, which they loved and enjoyed, joining in with the fun and craziness of it all.
Seventeen-year-old Adam Quinn who will be in St Bart's sixth form in September – studying film, among other subjects – has been making a recording of the whole Edinburgh experience, which he is currently editing. Can't wait to see it.
Director Tony Trigwell-Jones told me: "This year the company have come together to form a tight and professional ensemble. There is much for them to be proud of in their performances in the show, on the Royal Mile and in their attitude to the production as a whole. Naturally, we are really happy for them and their achievements."
Joining us for the first time in the role of pastoral support was Jack Crittenden, who shared his thoughts: "It has been a pleasure to look after those involved in NYT. They have all been fantastic and energetic, despite the sheer amount of walking and performing that goes hand-in-hand with the Fringe. I have enjoyed every second and that can only be attributed to the cast's attitude and behaviour while in Edinburgh.
"They have all been professional throughout their time here and have been ambassadors representing Newbury. Their show is spectacular and their sense of commitment to the performing arts is greater still."
Sadly we have to say goodbye to several of our members who are moving on to the next stage of their life. Mathew Salford (18), who only joined this year, is moving to Salford University to study media and performance. He said: "The whole experience has been enlightening with such a breadth of culture. There have been some good shows and also terrible ones – it's like a roller coaster ride."
Eighteen-year-old Adam Taylor is a Fringe veteran, having been to three festivals. He is going to Plymouth University in the autumn to study acting. "It's been fantastic and this is my favourite of all three years. The cast are the closest and get on well and the show is the best. I really look forward to performing it and I love seeing the variety of other shows here," he told me.
Also leaving is Rosie Oliver (18) who will be studying theatre studies at Royal Holloway University She said she was going to miss NYT but hopes to come up to Edinburgh again.
For 17-year-old Louisa May this was her first time at the Fringe as she only joined NYT this year. She said: "It's great. I love the vibe. We've got the right time slot so we can see other shows. Kin (circus, dance and physical theatre) was just incredible, I just can't describe it in words.
"The flats were fantastic and we are all having a great time and everyone congregates in our flat so it's fun."
Louisa and Niamh Jones (17) designed the fantastic lace make-up for the cast and she felt that the group were a lot closer than last year. She has seen a lot of dance, as that is her favourite genre, but was going to have a day off from shows and explore the lovely city of Edinburgh.
Jake Mavis (17), in his first time in Edinburgh and first year with NYT, said: "I've taken to Edinburgh big time. I really love it – the whole place has an energy – this is one of the best things I've done in my life drama-wise. I'm definitely coming back next year."
Newbury Youth Theatre have now safely arrived back home with some great memories of their experiences in Edinburgh.
We are recruiting members for next year and if you would like to join this award-winning company and enjoy our weekly workshops and perhaps travel with us next year to perform in Edinburgh please do go to our website www.newburyyouththeatre.co.uk and complete an application form.