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Huntingdon Youth Theatre
Max Cashback
Huntingdon Youth Theatre was formed in 1997 by a group of the more ambitious members if Huntingdon Drama Club partly to create a nursery for the drama club and partly to redress an obvious gap in the extra-curricular market. After quite heavy publicity doors opened in January 1997. To our delight and surprise some 86 youngsters registered their interest within a fortnight. This caused some initial teething problems but the group soon settled into a programme of workshops, rehearsals and improvisation evenings on a weekly basis. Our first tentative venture into actual performances came to fruition that summer with two full length plays - Two Weeks with the Queen, and, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

With a year under our belts and the active support of the incumbent Mayor of Huntingdon, we secured a modest amount of assistance from the Huntingdon Town Council which has helped us to keep the group up to its current full strength of 50 members. We then moved on to a more adventurous schedule of events. A float in the carnival procession and an evening of theatre produced by young members themselves have now become annual events. With the help of outside theatre companies and professional workshop leaders, the young members were encouraged to write and create their own pieces of theatre. Several very successful evenings of one act plays and sketches have been presented.

As the group grew in stature and confidence, so its credibility in the local community also grew so much that two successive Mayors have asked members to perform at the Civic Carol Concert and the Chamber of Commerce invited the group to assist in switching on the Christmas Lights. Last year, 1999, we gave a sneak preview of our pantomime Alice in Wonderland, which went on to sell to an audience of over 400 in mid-December. It proved to be our biggest success to date. As this is written in April, we are currently rehearsing for an Alan Ayckbourn comedy, Tons of Money, and a modern adaption of Shakespeare's Hamlet. This play is being performed in May in Huntingdon and is then being taken to our twin town Szentendre, Hungary.

Our hope that some of our members would go on to bigger things has come true; two of our company, Hayley Atkin and Jessica Hooker (featured in the 1999 edition of The Bridge) have gone on to Drama School and other members have appeared in Shakespeare at The George in 1998 and 1999.

Membership remains at 50 and a waiting list containing some 20 more names is proof of the group's permanent nature. We still seek offers of adult help to enable us to organise a wider range of theatre based activities.

Contact can be made via the Chairman, Dominic Whitehead, on 414 607, or for box office enquiries, Maureen Yule on 350 084.

© 2000 Godmanchester Community Association


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