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The Scholars’ Production – The Edelweiss Pirates really was an amazing showcase of the talent of the whole cast and crew.
It was one of many truly successful productions put on here at Trent College.
“Each year The National Theatre invites ten writers to create new plays to be performed. Youth theatre companies from all over the country will perform the premieres of these new pieces of work at their home venues and at a partner theatre. We are very excited to be able to bring our production to Trent College and then to Derby Theatre later in the year.
The Edelweiss Pirates is an exceptional tale about courage. It reminds us of the importance of standing up to injustice and to be brave when faced with prejudice. I chose this play for the Drama Scholars as I felt that it would both challenge and educate them. Ayub Khan writes such moving scenes and his characters have depth and complex layers. This in itself is an exciting challenge for our group of 11-18 year old scholars and it is even more so when we consider that this is a play based on real life events.
The Edelweiss Pirates were young people, many the same age as our scholars, who wanted to make a difference. They believed so strongly in their cause that they were ready to sacrifice their lives for it, and ultimately did so. Researching the stories of our protagonists added a sense of authenticity to our production, though fictional. We knew we had a responsibility to share this story with you all as truthfully and as sensitively as we could. I have never been more proud of their work than I am of this project. Their professional and dedicated approach has been inspiring and the standard of their performances is well beyond their young years.”
“This play by Ayub Khan Din, whilst quite short, offers lots of challenges that would be daunting to any theatre company, let alone one so young as the Trent Scholars. That they not only faced them full on, but succeeded gives some measure of the talent and maturity of the group. Because the play is so short it is more difficult to explore, in any depth, each individuals personality, motivation and interaction with other characters. However, this cast managed to bring a strong sense of humanity to all of the major characters by concentration, commitment and focus.
This is an uncompromising and often bleak script with very few opportunities for light and shade but when the opportunities presented themselves, they were seized and used very effectively. The narration and dance sequences were excellently handled and gave just the right amount of light relief without spoiling the sombre mood of the play. The whole of the chorus gave entirely believable performances both as swaggering Hitler Youth and as wretched Jews being herded onto trains to be transported to the Camps. This was a high level performance from actors so young, showing outstanding talent and a solid understanding of their characters. All of the main cast showed a truly impressive display of stage craft; not being afraid to use the silences in the script and contrasting that with explosive moments to maintain a tension on the stage that gripped the audience throughout.
The lighting, sound and set were a real strength of this outstanding production. The sound was always accurate and perfectly timed whilst the lighting was never intrusive and again was in harmony with the bleak mood of the play. The set was simple and all the more effective for being so evoking just the right amount of austerity and destruction and mention must be made of the scene changes. The changes from inside to outside to nightclub were seamless. The stage crew dressed in Hitler Youth costumes merged so well with cast that the scene changes were done before the audience had time to register. This was smooth and very slick and very necessary to maintain the mood of the play.
This was altogether an excellent ensemble production of an uncompromising, bleak but very powerful play. The whole cast showed a real depth of understanding of the themes and implications within the script, and through their talents were able to present this to the audience. Well done everyone.”