Neil Duffield is a highly successful writer of plays for children and young people, with over fifty productions under his belt, many of these commissioned by leading UK theatres and touring companies. In this volume he brings together four popular scripts ideal for larger youth theatre casts. Having worked closely with Neil during my career as a theatre director, I can vouch for his understanding of young audiences by the spellbound silences (and roars of laughter) that greet his productions.
These four scripts have been tried and tested and continue to be performed regularly in youth theatres and schools since their publication in 2009. All are dramatic adventure stories and are aimed principally at the 12-16 age-range although Small Fry has been performed by 10-11 year olds. Production can be adapted with simple or elaborate props, scenery and costume and music can be recorded or live.
Twice Upon A Time explores the blurred lines between reality, fantasy and virtual reality in the form of a fantasy adventure set in the future as a love story twists its way through parallel worlds of reality, dreams and online-gaming. The script was based on a devising process with a youth theatre and Duffield has successfully pulled together the themes they came up with by producing a play which should have great resonance with young people. Interestingly, the original production had two completely different casts of 24 each for the first and second act, and while this is not a requirement, it may provide a useful solution for particularly large groups.
Small Fry was shortlisted for The Writers Guild Award for Best Children's Play - a play in which the small fry take on the mighty dragon, win the jackpot and outwit the scavengers and predators that usually prevail. It is suitable for performance by a whole class. The Minotaur is a spell-binding version of the famous Greek myth and Talking With Angels is an original and highly imaginative retelling of the complex story of Joan of Arc.
All these plays reflect the research, hard work and expertise of the author in coming up with texts which are rich in their use of language, framed by strong stories which are accessible and relevant to the young actors and audiences who will no doubt enjoy them.