Live 16th Annual Youth Theatre Festival
7th August 2015
Can you recall what it was like to be 11 or 12 years old? For me it's quite a few years ago and I may be forgiven for thinking that things might have changed a bit since then. After all, other things have changed: technology has moved on in leaps and bounds changing the way kids are taught in school, bringing the world closer, opening up opportunities. Yes, being 11 or 12 these days must be a doddle!
But as this group of talented young actors at Live Theatre show us, it actually isn't. It is still just as difficult, just as confusing and just as daunting as it ever was. Starting a new school is scary, finding your way around the corridors and finding your place in the pecking order, trying to fit in - all still there, and all still difficult.
11 Plus is a piece of drama based on interviews with the young people themselves. It takes their words and weaves them into a script that is delivered at a startling pace! Thoughts and ideas overlap and contradict, they circle around and agreeing and disagreeing as the actors voice their thoughts on friends, family, school, teachers - everything that might concern a young person on the edge of puberty - not a child, but not yet a grown up. It is funny and moving, brash and tender, it is sharp and witty, and it is performed with a degree of self assurance that I found astonishing. There were almost imperceptable pauses that stretched a moment or two too long, and occasionally nervous laughter threatened, but these things were overcome, and coped with better than some adult actors I have seen. The young cast supported each other throughout the play, and it was great to see them working so well together and obviously enjoying the experience.
This is a great piece of drama from a group of youngsters who are still young enough to think that being fifteen will be better than being 11, and that growing up will help them make sense of the world. Who am I to tell them that it won't? At 51 I am still waiting for all that to happen.
On reflection maybe being 11 or 12 today is not so bad!