Voices to be Heard

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Review of 'Imprint', Young Writers Programme, Royal Court Theatre, London

The Royal Court Theatre is currently running its biennial Young Writers Programme. 'Imprint' features ten scripts chosen from the original 400 submitted by playwrights aged between 13 and 25 who need not have had any previous writing experience. The programme aims to 'open up theatre to the most exciting and diverse range of new voices', offering the chance to attend writer groups and summer schools in support. It is working closely with young homeless and disabled writers, and has previously had some success in producing established writers.

The programme allows, for example, 15 year old Richard Leighton's play 'Graffiti' to be given professional direction and stage design. 'Graffiti' is a short tension-charged play displaying the intimidation games prevalent in school bullying. Others include Emma Rosoman's play with the Sylvia Plath inspired title 'The One with the Oven', which deals with small town isolation and small-minded friends holding back an aspiring soul. The desperation caused by this entrapment is captured in the haunting cry of, 'I'm bored. Depressed now. Wanna go home. Stick me head in the oven.' 'Just a Bloke' by 17 year old David Watson is a tale of an ex-artist who, having made the big move to London, is finding life a struggle. This is compounded after a visit from his brother and cousin expose the fault lines in complicated family relationships.

There is a thread of alienation and frustration running through many of the plays. 'Another Dull Day in Armour' by Chloe Moss is no exception. This is the tale of Tracy, who is bored with her dull checkout job and the banal conversations that are started by her colleague. Consumed by the claustrophobia of seeing the same faces every day of her life, she longs for the bright lights of the big city and somebody she can be comfortable with. An unlikely friendship is formed with Tony, who is similarly estranged with a caring side absent in most local boys. The possibility of happiness seems real when Tony agrees to run away with her. But news travels fast in a small town and her big chance to make the break is in the balance as her past catches up with her.