Young people take the theatre spotlight

Jacob Steele who plays Elijah
Jacob Steele who plays Elijah

Young people from the Lancaster district are taking part in a play commissioned by the National Theatre Connections Festival this weekend.

The Dukes Senior Youth Theatre will present We Lost Elijah at DT3, The Dukes’ youth specific venue in Moor Lane, from Thursday, March 14 until Saturday, March 16.

We Lost Elijah follows the story of a group of young people who are all affected in different ways by the discovery that their classmate Elijah has gone missing and explores the challenges of being a teenager in today’s society.

The play was commissioned by National Theatre Connections Festival, which develops new plays for young people and encourages youth participation in the arts across the country. The Dukes Creative Learning Department has participated in the festival before and in 2009 its young people were lucky enough to perform their play, The Thing She Sees, at The National.

We Lost Elijah features 17 actors telling the story through physical theatre, live filming and projection, live sound and music.

The group has been involved at every stage, from exploring character profiles, directing scenes and creating live film sequences to writing music, being involved in the tech for the piece, photographing the whole process and making a documentary of the play’s development.

The play’s score was composed by Thom Waite, a young local musician who, although not a member of the Dukes Youth Theatre, offered to write the music as he hopes to pursue a career in music technology.

The production also involves live sound through the imaginative use of a number of weird and wonderful objects by Youth Theatre member Megan Tate, who has also composed and will perform some of the live music.

One of the directors, Mary Sharples, said: “Our aim has been to shape the piece around the interests and skills of the group, and also around skills that they wanted to learn.”

The play will be performed again at Kendal’s Brewery Arts Centre’s Connections Festival on May 4.

A director from The National will see the show at The Dukes and deliver feedback. After the Kendal performance, The Dukes Senior Youth Theatre will find out whether they’ve been chosen to perform at The National in the summer.

Tickets are priced £6/£4(conc). To book, ring The Dukes box office on 01524 598500 or visit