The chaotic rehearsals of Surbiton High School in preparation for their NYT Connections performance.

It is four days before Surbiton High School’s performance of Chaos at The Bush Theatre in London as part of the NYT Connections competition, which sees ten new plays commissioned for young people to perform each year. 300 youth theatre companies and over 6,000 young people are involved this year. 36 of those are sitting in the Surbiton High School drama studio at their second to last rehearsal. Well, 33 actually since three cast members are trekking in Porlock for Gold DofE Awards. After a long school day, energy is dwindling and it’s been about a month since the last performance of the play. A fair bit goes wrong. 

We’re supposedly on a train platform in the middle of rush hour and, as one ensemble member lifts a block to position it as a bench, bang! A poor commuter, minding their own business, now has a concussion and the leading lady’s lines are interrupted with the not-so-subtle, frantic whispering of, “Sorry! Sorry! Oh I’m so sorry!”. As the actor determinedly continues with the scene she addresses “the woman,” currently obscured by the ensemble, who have forgotten the block she needs. As a result, an awkward game of musical blocks ensues as the ensemble rejigs itself around the performer, who is actually delivering a very moving and genuine monologue. It is quite literally, chaos. 

The next rehearsal is more promising for sure. With a renewed sense of determination the cast come together, bubbling with energy and excitement in the knowledge that tomorrow they will be performing at the Bush Theatre. The rehearsal runs as smoothly as a play entitled “Chaos” can and after notes from the director, the cast leaves confident that tomorrow they will do themselves proud and pay off their hard work. Fingers crossed! 

As for the rehearsal process; one year 12 cast member, Briony Evans, describes how “being able to perform a brand new play for the first time” has been the most rewarding aspect of the experience, “as it gives the whole cast and crew such a large creative license to portray the play however we want.” The innovation of the cast is certainly impressive, as is the collaboration that has occurred between year groups as a result. As for whether she would recommend others to take part next year, Briony says she “definitely” would “as it’s such a fun way to get involved in drama and performance.” 

Good Luck to all the talented young actors who will no doubt shock and inspire their audience at the Bush Theatre on the 1st May 2019.