UYA’s Immersive Theatre Productions 2023

For our final stage productions this year we wanted to do something unlike anything we’ve done before! In September, we set out to create four original immersive plays that break the conventions of traditional theatre, smash through the fourth wall and take the audience on a journey.

Local writer Hayley Thornton first created four treatments for us to map out story structures and characters. These treatments then came into the rehearsal rooms and, through weeks of collaborative devising and improvisation, the final pieces were created.

Our Over 16s 5pm group performed in ‘The Wedding of Elissa Porter’, and we tried to conjure the experience of a real wedding with all the added drama and hilarity that you could possibly imagine. ‘The Funeral of Maggie Byrne’, performed by the 7pm group, was a celebration of life in the form of a living funeral. Maggie, knowing she’s going to die, organises her own funeral so that she can attend along with her family and friends.

The following week, our Saturday groups took to the stage. The Under 12s production was ‘The Trial of Ebeneezer Scrooge’ and the 12-16s gave us ‘The Refuge of Last Resort’. The trial was a retelling of A Christmas Carol where Scrooge was put on trial for his crimes against humanity. Our Lewis Carroll-esque courtroom was filled with larger-than-life characters and even a giant snowman. ‘The Refuge of Last Resort’ was an apocalyptic, adrenaline-pumping story based around the real events of Hurricane Catrina where our cast and audience were barricaded in a church during an apocalyptic storm.

The project was a dive into the unknown. We had no idea how the audiences would react to the action, if they’d join in at the crucial moments and whether they’d work together with our actors. Our members had to draw on all the techniques we work on throughout the year to respond in the moment; improvising whilst staying true to the stories.

These super naturalistic pieces allowed us to enter a world without boundaries. It was one of the most thrilling but difficult projects we’ve ever undertaken and we’re immensely proud of the way our actors rose to the challenge.

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Urban Young Actors Theatre Festival 2022
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