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Heritage

Heritage

Written by Dafydd James, Directed by Hannah Uttley

This production of Dafydd James’s Heritage is produced by members of the Belgrade Theatre’s ground-breaking Work Related Learning programme, Acting Out from Tuesday 12 – Thursday 14 April 2016.

It’s Mayday and a group of misfit teenagers are specially chosen to close the day’s festivities; but as they gather to rehearse the village anthem, all is not well. Tubbsy’s hiding a cat in his bag, Deirdre-May’s grieving her Nanna and someone’s turned up as a Stegosaurus. As the rehearsal breaks down they soon begin to suspect that they’ve been chosen for a far darker purpose…

Directors note from Hannah Uttley:

Misfit (noun): a person whose behaviour or attitude sets them apart from others in an uncomfortably conspicuous way.
Acting Out is a ground breaking work-related learning programme which was established at the Belgrade Theatre eighteen years ago, this special anniversary provides us with an excellent opportunity to reflect back on what the programme and the participants have achieved.
Acting Out is targeted at year 10 and 11 students from Coventry who are not achieving in mainstream education. Students work with us for one or two years to achieve a BTEC qualification in Performing Arts, equivalent to 1 GCSE. While they are attending Acting Out the young people are given a chance to excel in a very different setting; one which often rewards the very behaviours which mainstream schooling can condemn, namely being loud, energetic, spirited and active.
Dafydd James’ Heritage is, at its heart, a play about misfits and the way in which society can judge any person who is perceived as being different. This is no more obvious than amongst teenagers. I find myself constantly amazed by the fact that many of the young people we encounter seem to occupy a world where listening to the wrong band or wearing the wrong jeans can mean your peers mark you as “weird”; a world in which walking away from a fight is not rewarded but condemned.
For this reason, Heritage seemed an important and pertinent piece to tackle with Acting Out. It has been a challenge for both the young people and the creative team. To celebrate the eighteenth Birthday of Acting Out this year we have supplemented our core group with alumni and participants from our other youth theatres for this, our final major production.
The process has prompted many interesting discussions with the young people about nationalism and difference; but more importantly it has provided us with an opportunity to open a dialogue with the cast regarding their own identity and heritage.
Heritage is important to all of us; where we come from can play a huge part in shaping our identity. For the young people on Acting Out their identity in school is often as a disruptive or challenging student, whilst they are with us we endeavour to give them the tools to change this identity and take positive steps towards building the life they aspire to.

Watch the video below of Writer Dafydd James talking about his play, Heritage.