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Saving the world (...ish) at Chrysalis Youth Theatre Festival

For its third year, Chrysalis Festival raises the curtain this Friday 17 November on the best young theatre-makers from around the UK, with a three-day showcase of ambitious performances and radical works-in-progress.

One of the productions showing at the festival, How to Save the World...ish, is a fast-paced, physical, cautionary suburban fairytale about the future of our planet. We caught up with writer and director Nicholas Barton-Wines to find out more.

Also see the end of the article for details of how to win two full festival passes!

Nicholas Barton-Wines – by Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

Tell us a bit about ‘How to save the world…ish’?

Set in a world that’s not this one but kinda like our world…ish, it’s a show about responsibility – for yourself, the planet, and those around you. If we always leave everything for someone else to sort out, what happens when it’s finally all down to just one person?

The show builds on a scratch performance at last year’s Chrysalis.

What was your favourite part of the process of bringing the work to life?

I’ve always been a big fan of technical rehearsals. For me it’s the period when all the dreams, conversations, and work come together, and we see what we have for the first time. This show has been ambitious, and at points challenging for everyone involved, so seeing the top of the mountain appear during our tech rehearsals as we neared the end of our journey was a very satisfying and empowering moment.

How To Save The World Ish

If you could put together your dream cast to perform in any play, who would they be and which play would you choose?

Oh, there’s so many plays to choose! When You Cure Me by Jack Thorne has excited me with its potential for many years. I’d love to create a punchy and young version of the play, with lots of music – maybe even staging it like a gig.

I can think of a few actors who would offer up really intriguing versions of the feisty lead character, Rachel, in no particular order; Amy Kennedy, Sinead Sharkey, Chloe-Ann Tylor. As for the rest of the characters; Malcolm Cumming, Tom England, Rebekah Lumsden, Jess Brindle, Sarah Miele… There’s too many excellent actors in Scotland!

What has been your most memorable theatre experience?

Watching Annie Siddons perform her play Raymondo. I saw it at the Fringe a few years ago on a complete punt. I cannot express how profoundly moving it was for me. I think I cried for a good hour afterwards because it was so, so beautifully simple and powerful. It changed my view of the potential of theatre to speak to audiences.

Nicholas Barton-Wines – by Ben Chinapen

Without giving anything away, what’s your favourite line from your show?

"I believe in you, Sophie. You are not normal – and that’s the best thing about you."

What was the first play you ever worked on?

I’ve had a lot of firsts. My first school play saw me playing a red elf at the age of 5 (I still have the tights!). The first show I ever directed on my own was a double bill of Caryl Churchill’s This is a Chair and Heart’s Desire. I was drawn to its creative form and courage in tackling huge topics with fantasy elements. It’s a little bit sci-fi, and these are definitely traits I still see in my work today.

Nicholas Barton-Wines by Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

What advice would you give to emerging theatre makers?

If you don’t ask, nobody will know what you want. Never be afraid to ask for help, for answers, or for time; whether than be from theatre makers you admire or folk you wish to learn from. Your enthusiasm and tenacity will be what gets you in the room.

Are there any resources that you find particularly useful as a theatre maker?

I'd recommend The Director’s Craft by Katie Mitchell and What Happens Next? by Mike Alfreds.

Just try to see as much as you can. I also love sculpture and graphic/illustrated novels – it can really help inform my work and gives me an escape from theatre when I need it.

Win full festival passes for Chrysalis Festival 2017

The List Magazine and the National Lottery have teamed up to offer two full festival passes for the festival. Just answer a simple question here by Wednesday 15 November for a chance to win.

How to Save the World...ish was supported by Beacon Arts Centre and funded by Inverclyde Council and Creative Scotland. It builds on a scratch performance staged at last year’s Chrysalis Festival.

Chrysalis Festival is run by Youth Theatre Arts Scotland and is staged at Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh. It is supported by The National Lottery through Creative Scotland, Turtleton Charitable Trust, the Saltire Society and Edinburgh Napier University in association with Macmillan.

A landmark showcase of British theatre's most promising new artists.- The List

Photos of Nicholas Barton-Wines by Tommy Ga-Ken Wan and Ben Chinapen. Photo of Emergence performance at Chrysalis festival 2016 by Andy Catlin.

This article was published on 13 Nov 2017