Yesterday evening gave us the sixth session of the Ryton Festival in Emmaville Hall. Proceedings were opened by Jonathan Morris, the Executive Principal of Thorp Academy, and the entrants came from The Saturday Stage School, Whitley Bay.
Categories/classes are divided into different age groups, but suffice just to tell you that all of the performers were 18 years or younger. So with this in mind, the first thing I want to tell you about is the atmosphere that hit me when I entered the hall. It was one of tumultuous excitement and enthusiasm, and this regenerated itself throughout the evening. The youngsters here were having an infectiously wonderful time.
The evening began with three short plays or excerpts. There was a scene from Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse, a novel I’ve read numerous times as well as seeing the play. I actually have the film downloaded on to my Iphone, so you could say then, that I know the piece very well – and these young people gave it great justice. Then there was The Ascension of Mrs Leech, about an elderly lady who dies, goes to heaven, and then gets herself into a bit of a ding-dong with God and takes over his job. This is a clever, but little known work by Daniel Elliot Poole, which actually I have seen before and Edinburgh seems to ring a bell. Maybe Jamie, who introduced the performance, would be able to tell me? He mentioned that his group is the only one currently holding rights to this piece. Finally we had The Play That Goes Wrong by Henry Lewis, a hit West End farce which I’ve never seen but have certainly heard of. Later classes were television commercials (short sketches for 14 years and under) duologues and mime.
There was so much individual talent that it’s impossible to single any one young person out, and this isn’t a review site, so I’m just going to tell you some of the general comments that the eminent adjudicator, Norma Redfearn, made about the evening. Norma trained at the Northern College, has performed in weekly Rep and professional tours, and she has extensive examining and teaching experience.
During her feedback she said she’d enjoyed lovely work from everyone and pointed out that acting was about being in a team, if you are doing group work in drama everyone depends on you, and you on them, and that this is true for all of life. This now brings me to the enthusiasm I mentioned above. Norma advised that you don’t come to Festivals to get first place, but to celebrate, enjoy, and to learn. She told us that one cannot fail at a Festival, because the person who has never made a mistake never made anything at all. Competing will raise one’s game and bring out the best, so when the adjudicator gives praise and follows it with the word ‘but’, the buts are put there to make one even better. So with this in mind, it was sad to see that not every entrant scheduled in the programme to perform last night actually took part. Maybe they felt they weren’t quite good enough, and if so, then I’m afraid it’s their loss, because here we had a fantastic evening, and the chance to receive constructive feedback from an expert is an opportunity to be seized. Norma is an adjudicator for The British and International Federation of Festivals and was awarded a Fellowship of the Federation in 2015.
The young people of the Saturday Stage School gave us a carnival atmosphere, and every impression of just being happy to be there. They took their acting seriously, and when not performing they applauded their friends with whoops, whistles, and stamping feet.
I wasn’t allowed to take a group photograph because I can only do this with parental permission and not every parent was there to grant it, however I’m hoping to be emailed a picture which I will add later on.
You can catch the seventh session of the festival today, visit Ryton Festival.