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Youths tackle the tough issues

Emily Ireland

A group of young Wairarapa people are using the performing arts to tackle the hard issues that go hand-in-hand with growing up.

“I hate these jeans … I hate my hair … I hate my face … I’m so huge.”

Safety in numbers. The clump helps you to blend in, look right, and feel safe.

Voices of the young actors bounced off the walls of a simple set in the opening scene at Masterton’s Harlequin Theatre as they rehearsed last week.

The play is called Hoodie, and the young actors are preparing it for the annual TheatreFest competition.

Hoodie is a vignette play – a collection of short scenes – written by Lindsay Price.

Together, the 17 scenes pose the question most young people are faced with: “Do I stay in the clump, or do I stand alone?”.

Director Linda Voice said the themes in the play connect with people of all ages and that people would likely identify strongly with one or more of the characters – “all the problems are relevant and transcend the generations”.

“It centres around ‘the clump’ – everyone wants to be part of the clump because they don’t want to leave it and be different.

Braedan Gare and Jade Bradnock discussing being cool and loyalties.

“Those that do leave it, what happens?”

Voice describes the play as “quite funny, but also serious”.

“There are some heavy monologues for these young people about body image, and we’ve created opportunities to look at cell phones and bullying as well.”

“It will open up a lot of conversations for parents and kids who come along.”

The 15 cast members, of Harlequin Youth Theatre, have been rehearsing for the past three months – about 12 hours each week.

They’ve got their sights set on making it to the National TheatreFest finals, a feat they achieved last year with the play King John.

Charlotte Brooke. “You want me to take my hoodie off. But I’m not going to.”

“We didn’t place, but effectively we were one of the best seven plays in New Zealand last year which is very cool,” Voice said.

“We formed as a youth group for drama last year.

“A year on – I can’t believe how much their confidence has grown.

“Theatre in some form should be mandatory for a young person.

“Whatever theatre community you join, you become part of a whanau.

“It will be an experience that you remember for the rest of your life, whether it’s in school or community groups, or kids getting together and creating a show.”

Harlequin Youth Theatre will be performing at the heats of TheatreFest on July 28 in Lower Hutt.

They will also be performing Hoodie this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Harlequin Theatre.

July 19 and 20 shows will begin at 7pm, and the July 21 show will begin at 2pm.

Tickets are available at www.iticket.co.nz

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