Q&A with Abbie Willcox, Youth Arts Manager – National Theatre Connections

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What is National Theatre Connections?

Connections is the National Theatre’s annual festival of new writing delivered in partnership with The Lowry, and other prestigious venues across the UK. Connections is about giving young people access to new plays by prominent playwrights written specifically for young people to perform.

Connections gives young people experience of professional theatre-making, mirroring that of any company producing a new play in a leading venue. Young people are at the heart of the process from inception to performance, supporting everything that goes into the production, from marketing to stage design, technical support to stage management.

The Connections team travels the length and breadth of the country to support and encourage participating companies – the drama teachers and youth theatre directors who take on the challenge of staging a new play with a young company. Each year we are thrilled by the skill, creativity, commitment and passion that go into each production, often on a shoestring budget and a rehearsal schedule carved out around school commitments.


What can people expect from this year’s Connections Festival at The Lowry?

 We have an action-packed Festival this year – 12 plays, two days, world-class playwrights and some of the most exciting young theatre makers in the region.

As part of the Festival, each group will work alongside The Lowry’s Learning and Engagement team and Technical department to mount their production in either the Aldridge Studio or Quays Theatre. They will participate in workshops around contemporary theatre practice and skill share what they have learnt over the past 8 months with their peers.

For audience members, you can find our more information and book your tickets here for shows in the Quays Theatre and Aldridge Studio.

The Festival takes place at The Lowry on Friday 11 and Saturday 12 May 2018.

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How does The Lowry work with young people who are interested in drama?

Connections is part of a scheme of work designed to inspire and develop young theatre makers.

A key pillar of this programme is The Lowry Young Company, which focuses on providing training and opportunities for young creatives interested in all aspects of making theatre – from performance to design, producing to technical theatre, dramaturgy to directing. Through this work we connect young people to The Lowry’s Contemporary Arts programme and Artist Development scheme to explore new and exciting ways to make work with some of the most cutting-edge artists of our time.


What advice do you have for young people wanting to get in to drama?

Accessing drama is not just about performance; it’s about the process of making work in a supported and professional environment. We look for enthusiastic young people with commitment and energy. We are interested in how you create material and work as part of a team, rather than previous experience.

If you’re curious about theatre-making then please get in touch with Abbie Willcox, Youth Arts Manager.

The Lowry is committed to supporting young people’s development and we would love to hear from you.

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Which part of Connections are you most looking forward to?

The Connections Festival is always a wonderful celebration of the year’s achievements. I’m most looking forward to welcoming 200 young people to the building and supporting the exchange of ideas from young companies across the region. For many, this is their first experience of making theatre and performing on a professional stage.

It’s a great pleasure for The Lowry to work with the National Theatre on Connections and we hope everyone involved will enjoy these action-packed two days as much as we will!