First person ...

Some of the young people who take part in Connections each year, and those who are new to the programme this year, speak about why they enjoy the project.

John (17)

plays Reedy in 'Hearts' and Eddie in 'Same'

This is my third year taking part in the NT Connections festival and every year has been a different experience for me. As a member of Kildare Youth Theatre, NT Connections has broadened my mind and outlook on youth theatre (both in Ireland an in the UK). Being given the opportunity to perform their new plays for the first time is a really fun experience, and it so interesting to see what other youth theatres do with the same play as you’re performing. I also enjoy the social aspect of the regional festival in the Lyric Theatre in Belfast: meeting new people and doing workshops with them is always a remarkable experience.

Alannah (17)

Plays Emma in 'Same'

I enjoy taking part in NT Connections because I think it has helped my confidence and helped me get close to many new people. It has helped me learn more about acting. I also like that I get to know about writers whose work I never read before.

Caolán (17)

plays Harry in 'Hearts' and Alf in 'Same'

I have taken part in two Connections projects to date. Creating a role, doing the research for a character, and working to make it all real, has brought me a very steep learning curve. I am auditioning for drama schools, and as such, taking part in NT Connections is an extremely beneficial experience. The programme offers us strong, intelligent scripts from talented writers. It is recognised widely by directors, casting agents and drama schools and taking part in it shows considerable commitment to acting.

Jack (17)

plays Langers in 'Hearts' 

For me, taking part in Connections has been a huge benefit: I’ve had the opportunity to take part in scripted plays by well-known writers; I’ve learned new skills I thought I may never learn in my life; and I’ve met people from all over the UK and Ireland who have the same interests as me. The National Theatre connections programme has really opened my mind to new issues and ideas.

Kahai (17)

plays TJ in 'Hearts' 

Getting the chance to take on a completely unknown role in a freshly-written play made especially for young people like me is a unique opportunity and one I have relished. In addition, I love the buzz of performing at regional theatres along with other youth theatres from all over the country.

Katie (17)

plays Jade in 'Hearts' 

I enjoy doing Connections plays because they bring out a different side to me. I love contributing to a great body of work – performing a new play on stage, especially in the regional festival in the Lyric in Belfast, is an amazing experience. It also helps me come out of my shell a lot. It is a fun way of coming to terms with a character in a creative way. And the thrill of performing on stage in the regional theatre is unbelievable.

Séan (15)

plays Harry in 'Same'

I like being part of NT Connections because it gets me working with other actors in my area. And I can take the work of a relatively new writer and make the play come to life.

Allie (16)

plays Simone in 'Hearts' 

I enjoy doing Connections because the scripts are so good – they are all by new writers (at least, to me). The characters in all of the plays are so different and you get a chance to play someone who is the furthest thing from yourself – and yet, they are real, my age, and like people I know. So it is a great learning experience. I also love getting the chance to take our play to the Regional festival in The Lyric Theatre in Belfast and see the plays that other young people have been working on for the past few months.

Jerry (17)

plays Mary in 'Hearts' and Harry in 'Same'

I feel that Connections is a great way to give established writers a chance to share their talents with eager young performers. I have taken part in two Connections festivals to date and I love seeing other youth theatres perform different plays from the portfolio – something you might not see that often. At the regional festival (in Belfast’s Lyric Theatre), the workshops allow people to get a taste of different aspects of theatre which they might not have readily available to them in their own company (eg writing). Also, being able to escape my town for a weekend to perform in a festival is something I thoroughly enjoy!

Evan (16)

plays Pie in 'Hearts' 

This is my first time doing a Connections play. Working on a brand-new play, for such large audiences, has shown me not only how much focus is put on performers, but how much better this focus makes a performance. Being a part of something as big as NT Connections has made me want to perform my very best, and has taught me to commit 100% to my work.

Hazel (15)

plays Fay in 'Same'

I like being part of Connections because it gives me the opportunity to work with other young actors in order to bring the work of a new writer to the stage. It also allows us the chance to take on a character never done before and make that character our own. There is a lot of freedom in developing the characters.