Dale Rooks admits there were a couple of stories chosen by her young actors which she really wouldn’t have chosen herself.
They are actually now her own personal favourites as Chichester Festival Youth Theatre prepare to take to the open-air stage with their production of a selection of Grimm Tales for Young and Old.
As youth theatre director Dale says: “It just shows how you can read things differently. I chose five of them, and the youth theatre members read some of the others and chose the last two which I didn’t particularly think came off the page, but having said it was their choice, I went with them. But as we have worked on them, they have grown to be the ones I like best.”
The show now comprises Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, The Three Snake Leaves Hans My Hedgehog, The Juniper Tree and The Goosegirl at the Spring – tales which will be delivered in a promenade production at Cass Sculpture Foundation running from August 4-19.
“It is always difficult to find new things to do, and obviously the open air presents certain challenges. But I do feel that if you are doing a selection of stories, you can respond to the different environments as you move around. When you are following a story through, it can be more difficult to have a coherent whole when you are moving from one place to another. I think it works well with the different stories.”
But linking them are the young actors who carry through – a chance to see them rise to different challenges. An actor playing a king in one piece could well be a servant in the next.
“And it is nice for the audience to share that transformation.”
“Some of the stories are quite dark, but there is a lot of wit in them, and having a large ensemble really makes them come to life.”
Adding to the fun – and the challenge – is the fact that 29 of the company have never performed before: “It is quite a high proportion, but I am quite happy with that. I think it is wonderful. You have got a group of people that come together and create an ensemble. You start with a group of people that are not a company and they become one, and they learn to understand what professional theatre is. I try to make it as professional as I possibly can and raise the expectations. It is terrific when you can sense them all going on that journey together.
“You really see the confidence-building process going on, and even those that might not be ready to speak out, when you see them in the ensemble you can see how much they are a part of it.”
The audience will follow the production on foot through a variety of locations, including some steep and uneven ground.
There are no parking facilities at Cass Sculpture Foundation.
Your ticket for Grimm Tales for Young and Old includes free car parking at Chichester College where the adventure will begin as buses transport you to the venue at the times specified and return immediately following the performance.
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