The YMT Experience - I've made friends for life and connected with people in a way I didn't know was possible
Just ahead of our National Auditions Tour 2017 we talk to recent company members and get their insider views on what it's like to be part of YMT, and the impact the experience of participating in our programmes has had on their lives.
Charlotte Emerson | YMT Performer 2012 - 2016 | "the possibilities of who you can meet and what you will learn are limitless"
I have performed in three different productions with YMT and they have all been hugely educational and great fun. One of the things I love about the company is that no two productions are the same; they are hugely varied in style, theme and rehearsal process. I've made friends for life and connected with people in a way I didn't know was possible, through a two or three week rehearsal period.
My favourite thing about my time at YMT is that you are treated as a professional company would be. Rehearsals are intense and disciplined which means that the standard of work produced is consistently high. I am currently in my first year of drama school and I believe YMT has been the single biggest factor in preparing me for the intensity of the work required in this challenging industry.
In addition to improving me as a performer, YMT has helped me grow as a person. It has changed my outlook on the world for the better giving me a more informed perspective on significant issues that face the world we live in.
Working with industry professionals has been a huge learning curve, and the support and guidance I received from the Directors, Choreographers and Musical Directors has improved my knowledge and confidence for life.
I would absolutely recommend the YMT experience to anyone who is interested in performing, it makes you a better person and performer and the possibilities of who you can meet and what you will learn are limitless. It is an invaluable, life changing experience.
Taha Elamin | YMT performer 2015 | “The whole thing was like a roller coaster ride, full of excitement”
I was in the Midnight Flower Press in Plymouth, summer of 2015. What is great about YMT is they take into account all your ideas, so you feel that you are part of the making of the production. The whole thing was like a roller coaster ride, full of excitement and it helped me with my future audition in the West End as Bruce Bogtrotter in Matilda the Musical for which I was contracted from Jan to Sept of 2016. I’d definitely recommend YMT to anyone of my age group (12yrs) with an interest in performing arts, as it is a unique experience and you get the opportunity to work with like-minded talented young people.
Step forward onto the stage and kick-start your career in performing arts with YMT. Auditions are booking now, from Sat 21 Jan - Sun 19 Feb 2017, touring 24 cities from Inverness to Plymouth and London to Dublin and Belfast, and everywhere in-between. Take a look at the full list of dates and times here.
Last week was bursting with activity at Lyceum Theatre's Ambassador Lounge as YMT produced the first rehearsed reading of A Teenage Opera to an invited audience. This ground-breaking work began its life in Abbey Road Studios in 1967, when composer Mark Wirtz penned what was to become the first rock opera concept album.
YMT's Associate Producer, Matthew Johnson, talks to us about how it all went down
I packed the keyboard, music stands and amp into the back of an Uber.
“Where are we going?” asked my driver.
“To the Lyceum Theatre!”
This had been our office for the last week as we prepared our rehearsed reading. Our 20-strong cast had been given only four days to get a brand new musical off the page and in front of an invited audience of producers, agents and friends. The show is A Teenage Opera and it has been nearly 50-years in the making.
Michael Bradley, fresh from dilivering the musical direction for The Busted Musical: What I Go To School For, took the mixed cast of YMT Alumni and young people through a speedy vocal warm-up. Meanwhile, Writer/Director, Pete Gallagher, made a few last-minute adaptations to his inspired new script.
Barely a few months earlier, Pete had come to YMT with a vision for transforming the world’s first rock opera from a concept album to a fully-staged piece of music theatre ahead of its 50th Anniversary in 2017. Today, this new production was going to be heard for the first time.
Standing quietly next to the action was the man himself, Mark Wirtz – creator and composer of A Teenage Opera at the Abbey Road Studios back in 1967. He and his wife, Amanda, had flown all the way over from Atlanta, USA, to assist the massive transition from album to performance.
It wasn’t too long before the room filled with anticipation from an excited audience. Mark was joined by Keith West and the ‘Corona Kids’ – a well-overdue reunion of the voices from the original album. The lights dimmed, music blared, and the story of Grocer Jack in A Teenage Opera finally began.
YMT's 2016 Summer Season of New Music Theatre has now finished! Our Executive Producer, Jon Bromwich, reflects on the last few weeks.
I love the last bank holiday weekend of August: the culminating weekend of the YMT season. It’s a chance to look back on a wonderfully intense, inventive and imaginative collection of new music theatre. This year, down in Plymouth, there was a real Bank Holiday pearl in the form of The Legend of White Bear Lake, a beautifully lyrical work set in the forests of North America. Somehow it seemed fitting that the approach of the autumn, the new school term, would be marked by a work celebrating the seasons and the ever changing patterns of human and animal life.
Before that we had some our best ever reviews for The Dark Tower at the Bussey Building in Peckham:
This is probably the biggest musical theatre event of the year…It is exhilarating. It is startling. It is also the boldest, most original score you will hear this summer, apart from Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s 1970, ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. This incredibly wonderful work deserves the close admiration and encouragement of all arts organizations who want to support and be a part of the most exciting development in musical theatre in this country in years. We need to try and catch up with the awesome pace that YMT is setting. Read the full review.
That ‘awesome pace’ included the new Busted musical What I Go to School For at the Theatre Royal Brighton featuring some truly breathtaking performances – watch this space for the next generation of BRIT award and Olivier winners. The show is already optioned for professional development and we expect to see it on the West End stage at some point in the future...
In Trojan Women we tackled asylum stories, women escaping war and abuse, and took Theresa May to task for her attitudes to immigration. Also exploring serious matters, we looked at how female boxing can become an outlet and catharsis for the frustrations and energies of damaged youth in Fight Like A Girl - perhaps not the usual fare of musicals - but important nonetheless and an antidote to the vacuity of much commercial musical theatre. Fight Like A Girl, which was performed at the textile factory Sunny Bank Mills, also garnered five-star reviews.
In MAELSTROM we explored - through a devised rehearsal period - the deep bonds between Scottish and Norwegian legend and music while in The Frenzy of Sweeney we modernized an ancient Ulster legend transforming it into a drama on the streets of Belfast.
Every year we ask Trinity College London to assess our work under their Musical Theatre in Performance certification and this year was no exception to the rule that every YMT production received a Distinction at Grade 8 – the highest available before BA or Diploma qualifications. Indeed, one examiner commented that the production she saw displayed a group of mostly 14-19 year olds working at Diploma and Post graduate level. Most astonishingly, our production of The Great Gatsby received a remarkable score of 99/100 – just part of that ’awesome pace’ that the YMT Company is setting.
And the Trinity assessments are mirrored on our Summer Skills Courses where Distinctions at Grade 6 are the norm. Over 200 young people took these courses in 2016 and, along with our After School Clubs, it’s an area of growth and innovation for YMT.
Each year we ask 300 young people to set the bar high and achieve the (almost) impossible – the highest quality productions rehearsed in ten-hour days with a creative intensity unparalleled elsewhere in the world of theatre training. We ask our young people to take part in a process of making new theatre with the best practitioners in a way that no other organisation can match.
There are too many people, places and things to thank individually here but this summer we asked over 150 creative, technical and pastoral staff to join us and make the YMT 2016 Summer Season of New Music Theatre happen. Thanks to all of them and also to those who came to watch any part of our great creative festival. We are continually amazed by the support and dedication from parents, carers, teachers, families and friends and we are so grateful for all your efforts in making the summer possible.
Thank you and we look forward to working with you all again next year!
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If you see an advert on our website for Theatre Tokens then go ahead and click it! Tokens can be used in over 240 venues and they have no expiry date (see, they’re perfect, right?). They’re also accepted all over the UK and can be redeemed in person, by phone or by post.
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We chat to YMT Alumni Gabriel Mokake about his time with YMT. Gabriel has starred in The Color Purple, Dessa Rose and will soon be performing in Children of Eden and Dreamgirls.
Gabriel was part of the YMT Company from 2007-2009 performing in Rare Dreams (2007), Endangered (2008) and A Winter's Tale (2009).
I had an incredible time working on YMT projects. I was able to form a wonderful network of friends and whilst having the time of my life, building foundations to my theatre craft. Those summers taught me so much about working with others, and writing my own stuff and most importantly confidence, as a youngster in theatrical industry.
Do you still keep in contact with any YMTers?
Absolutely I made some incredible friends on these projects. And we all still keep in contact! I've worked professionally with some and even lived with some.
Why should people get involved with YMT?
Young people should consider joining YMT not only because can it build your confidence and professionalism. It can really help Influence your path into the industry whether it be performing, directing, writing, composing or choreographing YMT gives you a little taste of the Artistic World.
What would your dream role be?
I'm terrible with these sort of questions but I don't think it's been written yet... I would love to play great historical characters such as Frederick Douglass, Dr Martin Luther King Or Christopher Gardner.
(L-R) Sunny Moodie, Joshua Tonks, Jaygann Ayeh and Gabriel Mokake - Rare Dreams, 2007
Another difficult question for Plays The Importance of Being Earnest and Musical The Color Purple.
Tips for auditions.
Be Positive. Smile. Do the research!
What/who should young people research in the arts?
Knee High, Punchdrunk and The National Theatre.
Eastern Foods! Thai, Chinese and more.
Maldives or Papa New Ginuea.
THE most important question: Scone (as in stone) or Scone (as in gone)?
Read more interviews with YMT Alumni here on our blog!