The Young Rep prepares for its inaugural production as part of the Worcester Repertory Company’s 50th Anniversary season – a chilling dystopian take on Shakespeare’s psychological masterpiece, Macbeth.
This year sees the Worcester Repertory Company celebrating half a century of creating theatre, but as it marks its Golden Anniversary, it is the next generation of talent that is leading the celebrations in the form of The Young Rep.
The Young Rep has been founded to celebrate the link between the Worcester Repertory Company and the Swan Youth Theatre. “Since the Swan Theatre opened its doors back in 1965, youth theatre has been an integral part of its very fabric” says Worcester Rep Associate Director and Artistic Director of The Young Rep, Ben Humphrey. “There has always been an inspiring link between the Swan Youth Theatre and the Worcester Rep, and the Rep’s Golden Anniversary seemed the perfect time to celebrate that link.”
Formed from the Swan Youth Theatre’s award-winning SYT Company, The Young Rep is now in the final stages of rehearsal for its inaugural production, which will take to the Swan Theatre’s main stage this March.
Director Ben Humphrey, himself a former member of the SYT, has teamed up with an award-winning creative team to work with the company of talented young actors and bring his dystopian take on ‘The Scottish Play’ to life.
“Macbeth is one of the greatest masterpieces ever written” he says. “Its power comes from Shakespeare’s ability to show us the very best and worst of his characters in every situation. In this new interpretation, the cast and I felt very strongly that the lives these characters lived were lives of survival. Survivors by their very nature are dangerous, as you’ve no idea what they’ve done to stay alive. The play is brutal, tormented and unforgiving and there is a huge amount to get your teeth into. I couldn’t have asked for a better cast for The Young Rep’s first production; the talent is incredible.”
Ben is also a firm believer in the importance of connecting young people in theatre with professionals and the potential positive impact that can have. “The connections that young people make in theatre can last a lifetime and it is through those connections that the next generations of theatre makers are then given the confidence and the support network to move on into the wider industry” he says. “Over the years, many SYT members have gone on to make their professional debuts with the Worcester Rep, and many have returned to the Rep during the course of their careers.”
George Ormerod, who will play the title role in The Young Rep’s Macbeth, has already made his professional debut in the Worcester Rep’s 2016 production of King John; as has fellow cast and former SYT member Hannah Whitehouse (First Witch), who made her professional debut with the Rep as understudy for the role of Ela Delahay in the company’s 2017 smash hit summer show, Charley's Aunt.
The Young Rep's patron, Rufus Norris, current Artistic Director of the National Theatre (arguably one of the most coveted jobs in the profession), is also a former member of the Swan Youth Theatre who made his professional debut as a member of the Worcester Repertory Company.
The esteemed patron was recently awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Worcester for his services to Drama, and as part of the visit to his home town stopped by at the Swan Theatre to lead a workshop with the young company.
Ben Humphrey was delighted to be able to welcome back the Patron. "For The Young Rep to have that sort of opportunity is just spectacular. It speaks to the incredible passion the industry has for the Worcester Rep and the Swan Theatre that people such as Rufus are willing to work with us on creating these opportunities for young people in theatre” he said. “Not only was the company able to use the opportunity to work on characterisation and acting technique, but they were also able to gain an invaluable insight into the industry as a whole.”
‘The Scottish Play’ is undoubtedly one of Shakespeare's best known works. Betrayal, jealousy and a thirst for power all contribute to one of the most powerfully dark plays ever written. Set in a bleak, dystopian world where the fight for survival is a constant one, this production shows how the brutal aftermath of civilisation’s collapse propels Macbeth towards his ill-fated destiny as he struggles to survive against dark forces intent on bringing about his downfall. Book now for this unmissable production.
The Young Rep brings William Shakespeare's thrilling tragedy to the main stage of the Swan Theatre, Worcester from Tuesday 6th – Saturday 10th March.
Young people between the ages of 15 and 21 can apply to audition to be a future member of The Young Rep. For more information please visit www.theyoungrep.co.uk.