fct 2008


It’s been a crazy day.

Golf, driving lessons (more later) and at the end of it the latest FCT festival Show. Their 29th and the first with no hand of my dad involved.

The Director, Claire Stewart, speculated in her programme notes that parts of it would have given him ‘the tingles’ and there can be no doubt that she called that one right.

This show is actually so impressive that it makes you step back and re-evaluate this theatre company. But please don’t expect what follows to be unchallenging.

FCT has staged 58 productions and it’s fair to say they’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly with a very strong leaning to the former. But, folks, The Lords of Creation? Everyone screws up sometime.

This show though? This was FCT on steroids.

A Cockerney setting.

FCT loves Cockerney – great excuse to do ‘accents’

However, it had a bleakness that was, unusually for FCT, not offset by a few gags and a singalonga happy chappy come on it’s not all that bad, number. (Doin’ the Lambeth Walk and all that.)

No, this was tragi-comedy without the laughs.

This was bleak.

But, hey, was Robbie LS looking for laughs?

No.

He wrote a very focussed morality tale about good v evil in which (of course) good wins – well, the Victorians were a bit predictable.

Technically this was the most accomplished show in FCT history (perhaps Oh, What a Lovely War had more technical innovation but the lighting, sound and set in this show were awesome.) I sat in the back row and heard every word.

The choreography, I don’t know if you’d call it that, movement might be a better word, (see previous reference to lack of Lambeth Walks) was so considered and impactful as to punch you.

Aggressive, in your face.

Magic.

Low, moody eyelines prevailed and worked fantastically . At one stage the chorus lined the auditorium, turning and looking pointedly and uneasing the audience. I loved that.

The costumes were probably the best I’d ever seen, so themed, by colour especially and such high quality. They contributed greatly to the sense of time.

The band? How insulting to call them a band. This was an orchestra. Their role in this performance was fundamental and flawless. At times I thought it must be a CD playing, it was so flawless. And boy, you guys owe a debt of gratitude to your sound man for mixing it all so brilliantly!

So, turning to the show itself. I’ll caveat the rest of my views with a question, a challenge I suppose, and one that I wasn’t alone in asking!

Was this show ‘on-brand’ for FCT?

At the interval I thought not. Even after it, and despite how good it was, I’m still asking myself that.

As Thom Dibdin said in his review in The Edinburgh Evening News the material causes problems for a Youth production, and I agree with him.

In the first act, at least, it seemed to me that it had been a little too unremitting in its gloom and too heavy on reliance upon the principals’ performances. The second act (nearly) changed my mind. Mainly because the highlight of the show ‘Murder Murder” opened the act, drew your breathe away and established the chorus as a vital part of the energy of the show. And the chorus is fundamentally what FCT has always been about. I’d be sad to see that go.

FCT need never consider a festival production of Waiting for Godot. (musical or otherwise.)

It was a small cast by FCT standards – only 33 – and I wondered, for a while, if less was really more, but the second act reassured me.

All of this sounds a bit negative, but the experience was far from negative. Because, cutting to the chase, this was singularly the most impressive FCT performance I have ever seen.

I’ll have to revert to superlatives now. Hannah Scott was awesome, just collosal in her performance as the hooker with a heart, Lucy, she very nearly stole the show.

But let’s be honest, how could she? She was supporting Matthew Smith who played both Jeckyll and Hyde with a maturity that has to defy his age. (I have little doubt that he will fulfill his ambition of singing on the West End because he is a major talent.) It so happens I also saw him in lighter mode at the Holy Cross Players Panto and he was a hoot.

Every single principal was on the nail, but ultimately it comes down to direction and I have to say Claire Stewart has once again performed a PB.

Whatever your views of the script/libretto (and in our group they were mixed) what Claire Stewart drew out of this group was simply brilliant. “Murder Murder” was one of the finest moments I have ever experienced in a theatre.

As a whole I feel the show is flawed. It’s a bit too bleak, and lacks light and shade during a lot of the, quite long, first half storytelling stage but every opportunity to squeeze a bit of interest out of it Claire Stewart took.

Overall verdict? Outstanding

35 thoughts on “fct 2008

  1. Hear hear!

    I haven’t been around much for this show, but was at the dress rehearsal to take f.o.h. photos. Even without an audience this was a stunning, dramatic piece of theatre. One of the best FCT has ever done.

    I am absolutely convinced FCT will continue to grow in stature and ability for a very long time to come.

    Hears to the next 30 years!

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  2. I thought Thom Dibdin’s Evening News crit missed a star. He gave it 3 outta 5.

    He raved about its quality all the way through his review but added as a simple footnote that it was “simply not appropriate for a youth company”.
    OK, point made, but surely you knock off only one star for that?

    We’re off to see it tonight.

    I thought their cavalcade float would’ve done yer old man proud….

    (Warning: shameless plug link ahead.)

    http://blipfoto.com/view.php?id=173953&month=8&year=2008

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  3. As I said above in my edited version of this post, Thom Dibdin had a very good point to make and it was echoed by almost everyone I spoke to after the show. The show is monumental but I fear the material is not as appropriate for FCT as it could have been.

    I’m not being an old frump by saying that I just felt that it was a bit too ‘adult’ if that’s the right word.

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  4. You’ll never be an old frump, Nudey Boy, but yeah – a few weeks ago I’d asked my old dear what age range of kids could go see it (hoping to take the wee man).
    She wasn’t sure but reckoned 12+.
    “Eh? – FCT?”

    I was surprised coz I remembered going to see them when I was aged much younger than that. I asked a committee member and they confirmed that age range was about right. The material wasn’t appropriate for kids under 12 to watch. (Too scary maybe?) My first thought was “who’s gonna fill all the seats at the Saturday matinees?”

    I’d still maintain Dibdin’s words “power, intonation and presence”, “gasping for more”, “exceptional”, “excellent”, “well-drilled” “appealing” and “heartfelt” merit at least a 4 outta 5.
    Knock off one for content not being quite right for (some of) the performers and (some of) the (potential) audience but his words didn’t read like a 3 outta 5 even with his footnote. He simply made a good (and, by all accounts, obvious) point.
    Dibdin must know every star counts to these kids. That’s a score I’d expect from an Olympic diving or boxing judge. You cannae use words like that and mark the paper 60% s’all am sayin.

    Maybe it was an Eveneing News typo ;o)

    I’m guessing you with your “monumental” and “overall verdict? outstanding” would, if you were indeed dishing out stars outta 5, afford it a 4?

    I’m sure I’ll agree with all of the above tonight but probably give ’em 4.5 outta 5 if I do. 0.5 for inappropriate content.

    The company seems to have evolved and advanced at hyperspeed. 10 shows seems too few for all the effort and quality I hear about on this one.

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  5. Saw this magnificent show last night. Stunning performances from chorus, principles and musicians. Superb set, great lighting, an overall triumph yet again.

    As you know Mark, I’ve seen most of Forth’s shows since it’s inception/conception being one of the proud few who helped begin it all with your Mum and Dad.

    This show, excellent though it was is NOT, NOT, NOT suitable material for the vision your Dad has had for Forth CHILDRENS’ Theatre all these years.

    His and our(founding parents’) ethos for the company was always that “Children from whatever background should be welcomed into FCT to enjoy the experience of theatre, music, dance and mime without cost to them or their parents”.

    This show was a different animal altogether.

    FCT rightly should evolve, but in this direction? I’m afraid it is not a naturally comfortable place for a childrens’ theatre company to be.

    As you know Mark, our whole family ate, breathed and slept FCT, including Matthew, the youngest at nine and a half and desparate to be ten, so he too could join.

    Last night his comment at the interval when asked what he thought so far replied “Booooring”. At the end his comment was “Still Booooring”. These are not words we’ve ever heard from him after an FCT show!!

    I so hope that the company doesn’t put striving for excellence from the few older members before embracing and nurturing the aspirations and dreams of the many who would thrive and grow under our original ethos.

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  6. I hear ya, Di. We saw it last night too. All 4 of us adults were astounded by the quality but felt a lotta kids would not dig it.

    FCT seems to have outgrown its organic past and turned into a well-oiled (bordering on professional) machine.
    Like Jekyll and Hyde himselves I dunno if that is good or bad. Part of me respects the evolution these relatively young adults have triggered but nostalgia-me misses the shaky sets and wooden am-dram. Now it is seriously slick at the expense of inclusion.
    A cast of only 32 from an audition of 90 is certainly separating the wheat from the chaff – although, apparently, the Easter Shows are there to give the chaff a taste and an opportunity to improve for the auditions at the Fringe (didnae ken that ’til now but explains my larger number of Easter appearances – the bastards!).

    The show itself was like you said, Mark, bleak -til the very end. The wee number they sing at the end (“I thought he was deid” quote unquote) gives it a much needed jazz-hands finale after the wedding death.

    The brothel lassie trumped the bride in their sing-off and was the number 1 stage presence (purple frock on an otherwise neutral costume list helped, mind), the posh burd who got killed was excellent 1st act and I liked the bishop hamming it up but…… tonight we had Cameron Dyer as the main men – and wow – the boy’s a bit special.

    Slow start, over-moody misty lighting at times, great sound, outstanding chorus with really top facial expressions and choreography (and staying perfectly still when required), bloody excellent set (master craftsmen?), the wee genius that is Kerry-Ann Rae was exquisite and her band were top notch.

    I’m giving 4.5 – same as you. 0.5 off, not for inappropriate content – which having just seen a bunch of mid-to-late-teens perform it, now view Dibdin’s remark as bullshit. It ain’t appropriate for under-12s to watch, full-stop. 0.5 is taken off coz it’s one of them every-word-is-bleedin-sung musicals – grates on me like a Latin Mass.
    At one point the father of the bride was sing-talking and a 6 syallable word crept up on him like a mouthful of marbles. Gimme a play with big numbers any day.

    I thought for these kids to perform this in the Ed Fringe was spot-on. RLS uses the man and the beast as his metaphor for his hometown of Edina. The facade number was sung 3 times and represents the facade of Georgian hooses (just round the corner from Inverleith Church Hall up Howard Place and beyond). Indeed the show matched this fair old city for stabbings in the same 8 days of performances!

    Unrecognisible from my days and the first show I’ve seen since another Henry conducted selfish experiments (on a cockney street urchin burd) this is the best I’ve ever seen.

    Claire Stewart, take a bow.

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  7. Great review Jamesy.

    The ‘is it right material or not’ question is a vexing one and I’m inclined to favour Di’s view. But hey, why not go off piste once in a while? Especially if the results are this good. I’d prefer to see larger casts with bigger chorus vehicles so that one and all get a shot, but it’s a very difficult balancing act isn’t it?

    It’s like we’re saying could you make the shows a bit crapper so that everyone gets a shot – and that most certainly would not be my agenda.

    I’m glad I don’t have to decide.

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  8. Mark, I feel this isn’t really going off piste once in a while, it’s more like the elite few being given well deserved acclaim for giving adult orientated performances while under the umbrella of a childrens’ theatre company, excluding everyone younger, whatever their gifts.

    Acclaim isn’t something new to FCT as you know. I’m amazed at the quality of talent in all its forms within FCT.

    I’m certainly not saying “could you make the shows a bit crapper etc.” but rather “is a childrens’ theatre company the right vehicle for these superbly talented young ADULTS?”

    Is it maybe time for the birth of a new sibling FYT – Forth Youth Theatre for 16-19 year olds? Just a thought and thankfully not my decison either!

    The 10-16 year olds would again have their own learning, performing, creative area yet could aspire to join FYT if they should wish.

    Let’s not assume that one size fits all without at least looking for another way leading to inclusion of the very category of youngsters Dad had in mind.

    Remembering his ethos that the company was for all children, regardless of background etc. I feel that not just this show, but several of the past choices of material (Sweeney Todd and the like) were part of a separation of ideas about where the company was heading.

    As you say Mark, a difficult balancing act but only if the status remains quo. No-one seems to be thinking outside the box to find a better way forward for all.

    The most important thing to bring to the fore surely is that Forth is about inclusion, nurturing young hearts and minds in their first experiences of all aspects of theatre. Not exclusion because they haven’t yet had the chance to become one of the elite few who may be about to leave the company to take up their own career on Broadway!

    James, great review of the show, I couldn’t have disagreed with you at all.

    However Peter thought we HAD a well oiled (bordering on professional) machine.

    We will still have a copy of Gordon’s letter of congratulations on our professional attitude and performance in the Playhouse way back when.

    Nothing at all wrong with organic! It’s all about the journey, not the arrival. Who said that anyway?

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  9. Sorry Di, you’re right – yes it was well-oiled and pro – I do recall one of the Iain McDonald trilogy doing a one night stint at the Playhouse -it’s just the production is even oilier now.

    This has been a great education on all things FCT. I think the sums go something like this:

    Easter = inclusive, less spectacular, learning curve, children’s theatre.

    Fringe = exclusive, spectacular, youth theatre, a vehicle for the super-talented to showcase their skills and those who cut the mustard in the Easter show can join the big guns on stage.

    Not an altogether bad formula.

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  10. As someone who has been involved in the rehearsal process of Jekyll and Hyde, I wanted to respond to some of the comments that I didn’t think were entirely fair.

    Jekyll and Hyde was not a platform for a few leading performers to showcase their talents. Both chorus and principals were given an equal focus throughout the process. In fact the chorus have probably been used more than ever before. It is also not the case that only the elite have been chosen to be a part of the festival production. There was a mixture of ages, backgrounds and experience amongst the cast and the journey and growth of each performer (young and old alike) has been amazing. Just because the final product was so well executed, it is not to take away from the hard work and commitment the cast put in the months before. The journey they took was the most important part and it is simply credit to them that the final product was so strong. The involvement of the whole cast completely remained true to the ethos of the company. Not to mention, every member of the production team that worked with the cast throughout rehearsals, are ex cast members themselves, who chose to come back to the company because of the respect they have for what it stands for and what it gives young people.

    I also have to disagree with the comment about the choice of shows being a separation of ideas as to where the company is going, I directed both Sweeney Todd and The Wiz, both completely different styles of shows, and something I felt was good for the company to do. By doing a show that is dark in nature, does not mean the whole company is changing direction. It was only last year ‘The Wiz’ was performed and it was one of the most light hearted shows the company has ever done! Proving what FCT is capable of doing.

    Surely for young people to experience theatre, that means they should be opened to a variety of styles, form and material. Otherwise what are they experiencing or learning?

    It is extremely difficult to find material for a theatre company, that gives large numbers of people aged 10-18 something that is exciting, challenging and rewarding to be involved in and entertaining for an audience. I’m afraid you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

    Perhaps the company does need to be clearer on matters of age and where it sees itself in the future. I believe its possible for a company of 30 years to be able to evolve while remaining true to its roots.

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  11. Really good response Andrew. I think it’s important to get a view from inside the tracks.

    The views above are all from audience members. As I said I think it’s fine to go ‘off piste’ once in a while as this show did and it’s not a criticism of the cast and crew, far from it.

    I don’t share Di’s view as strongly as she does, but there is certainly a strong body of support for her view…as you can see.

    It would be interesting to read an opposing view from outside of cast and crew. Anyway all good healthy debate!

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  12. Andrew, I’d be delighted to see the company continue to evolve while remaining true to it’s roots. This is the point of our debate so far.

    In fact I’d say it’s been doing just that but for the recent trend towards using older cast members to do more adult orientated work. Hence the warning lights I felt were flashing.

    How does that happen exactly while – Peter’s ethos again – welcoming children from whatever background to experience all forms of theatre, music, dance, mime etc at no cost to them or their parents?

    The previous debate was not completely about J & H
    and believe me I do know how hard everyone works to produce such fabulous shows. Got the t-shirt, video etc. Been there through many shows.

    Point about J & H was that the superb cast and chorus contained, it seemed to me anyway, many more 17-18 year olds than not.

    Please, if you have time, re-read my entry of 17th Aug. especially paras. 3, 6, & 9.

    I hope you’ll find that the feelings I’ve expressed there match those of your own where you say that perhaps the company needs to be clearer on matters of age and where it sees itself in the future.

    James, no apology necessary. Your “Sums” seem to clarify the division quite well. Whole point being that there shouldn’t be a division at all if FCT is one company and still values Peter’s wise and thought provoking vision.

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  13. Having trawled through the above comments I find it hard as someone who was heavily involved during the whole process of Jekyll & Hyde not to comment on the views expressed here.

    I have been involved with FCT now for the last 12 years and have worked on every show since Oliver in Fringe 1997 (has it really been 12 years?!). Over this time I have seen FCT continue its evolution into the best children’s theatre company in Edinburgh.

    I think that part of the reason why FCT has such a high standing in the local community, and by this I’m not just talking about the local theatre community, is that we offer the kids the chance to do something different and challenging. It would be very easy to churn out the same, sickly kids musicals on a rotation (Annie, Oliver, etc.) but, in my view, it would be a waste of time. Plus, a lot of the shows written “for kids” are not any good!

    I have never thought of FCT as a youth club where kids come to pass the time. It is a THEATRE group. Part of our responsibility is to allow these kids to perform soemthing challenging and exciting, not just give them “something to do”. I have never seen a group of children so proud of what they have achieved than I did in the cast of this show.

    I am slightly confused by the phrase “too adult” when used to describe a show. Are we talking about the actual plays or the performances? I felt that the way in which the show was directed this year was extremely tasteful with regards to the “adult” content which I think people are referring to. There was nothing in there which was shocking to me in terms of it being performed by children. I can’t think off the top of my head of a show that I’ve seen performed by FCT that didn’t deal with difficult issues, for example – Nancy beaten and killed by Bill Sykes (a thief) in Oliver, abuse of children by a drunk orphange owner in Annie. However, I have seen performances in other shows by FCT which many would deem “safe” that were frankly, obscene and uncomfortable to watch. Am I to understand that because there were no “happy-clappy”, upbeat tunes in J&H this makes it a more “adult” show?

    I think it would be a real injustice to the children of FCT if we were not prepared to offer these kids the chance to do shows like Jekyll & Hyde and Sweeney Todd, purely using examples of shows given by others. Surely the best way to gauge if we’ve “got it right” is to ask the kids if 1) they enjoyed doing it and 2) were made to feel that what they were doing was “too adult”. After all, it is surely their opinion that matters most?

    I would also like to add to Andrew’s point about the inclusion of all in this show. Having been at auditions, the casting of this show was based purely on the talent we saw on the day. Although some of the main characters were played by older kids, I think there was a pretty even spread across the whole character list of ages. In fact the largest concentration of 17 and 18 year olds was probably the chorus. Every part was cast based on the acting and singing talents of the kids, no-one got a part because of their age.

    I also don’t agree with Di’s comment about it being a vehicle for a few talented individuals. Out of the cast of 32 on that stage there were 32 stunning perfromances and as Andrew has already stated, EVERY cast member was given equal measure in terms of what was required for their part. This was I think the first show I have been involved in where the whole cast was involved heavily at every rehearsal.

    And now onto my final point, which I’m sure will put a few noses out of joint…but hey, this is my personal opinion, so there! I don’t think it is right to use Peter’s name in vain. By this I mean I don’t think that it is right to say what he would/ wouldn’t have liked or wanted, especially to justify people’s own points. No-one will know exactly what he would have thought of Jekyll and Hyde but I am sure of one thing – he would have supported the kids 100% and if they were enjoying it, he would have loved every second.

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  14. I have been following this debate for a few days now and I would like to also raise a few points. How do you expect FCT to succeed if only the younger members are challenged and everything is suitable for them and them alone? If you do not allow the older members of the cast to be challenged they would eventually lose interest and possibly leave the company.
    This show especially has seen maximum use of the chorus, as they were used in nearly every number. As a cast member, I know personally the thoughts and feelings of my fellow members ,and I know for a fact that they truly enjoyed the material given to work with and did NOT find it unsuitable.
    Also, the cast may seem (to you) to be full of older members but they have been a part of the various casts for many many years. They should be admitted into a cast, no matter what their age, due to their great talent and commitment they have given FCT over the years. I have been in FCT since the age of 9, and I can easily say that in each and every summer show the amount of members aged 16+ have definitely out numbered the younger members.
    Also, it is not only the older members who are given the “more adult orientated work”. Take the young actress who played Emma for example. She is only 15 years old and has taken on an extremely powerful and strong role which I felt defines FCT. She is then not alone, many of the “Singers” were aged 15 or younger and I feel your comment was unfair and unjust.
    If, like you say, you know the amount of work the cast put in, then you will realise that some younger persons may not cope well with the pressure of a Festival Fringe production, therefore resulting in “many more 17-18 year olds”.

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  15. FCT has never really strived to be children’s entertainers, there was some debate a number of years ago about a strap line for the posters so that people understood this before buying tickets, to read something like “children performing for adults” or “by children for adults”. I can’t remember if this was ever actually used as nothing seemed to be quite right without a bit of the double-entendre about it.

    We have tried doing a few shows aimed at a young audience, Wind in the willows etc. and a few with moral themes aimed at level children would understand, Honk, The Chess Game etc. and all of those type of productions were….well….to be polite….inclusive!

    Beyond those it’s difficult to think of many which haven’t contained ‘adult’ themes, from the violence and thieving of Oliver, the slavery and prostitution of the Children’s Crusade the adultery and betrayal of The Boyfriend, the poverty, disease and death of the Raged Child the list goes on right up to murder in Oliver, Romeo & Juliet, Sweeny Todd, Oh What a lovely War….. In-fact it seems like someone dies in just about every FCT show!

    Perhaps the directors of today (and the audience come to that) expect more realism in a production of the standard to which FCT has become known. Just compare the last time we did Oliver with the first! I think the adult themes have always been there, they were just glossed over in a ‘happy clappy’ way in the past which wouldn’t be acceptable in a modern theatre production today.

    FCT has had calls many times in the past to change to, or start a youth group, but has always resisted these, as by keeping with the name ‘children’ we ensure that when cast members reach a certain age the are pushed out of the comfort zone of FCT and into the big world (always with our continued help and support if they need it) thus making way for the next generation of rising stars.

    It’s a winning formula, it my be evolving but were still winning.

    Long may it continue!

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  16. I hope nobody thinks I have kicked off a fundamental and constitutional debate.

    It is very interesting to read the ‘take’ on this whole adult/child thing and clearly Cameron’s comments hugely vindicate the selection policy.

    As it happens Hannah Scott has also been a long term member of the cast and played a key role in the show.

    The fact remains though that the show has divided opinions, not in terms of creative merit, as the applause for it is consistent, loud and true.

    More input from audience members (beyond those of us who have put in our tuppence worth) would be interesting though.

    Surely art is meant to divide opinion anyway? And create debate. If so this show has certainly achieved those fundamental principals.

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  17. Mark, I too remember The Lords of Creation and can take responsibility for the addition of The Lambeth Walk to The Matchgirls (so the chorus had more to do :-)) I also remember many other great productions but there is no doubt in my mind that Jekyll & Hyde was the most impressive show FCT has ever produced. I was blown away by the talent and commitment shown by each and every cast member. The whole production was stunning and the chorus work was some of the best I have ever seen and that includes professional productions.

    However, and I’m afraid there is a however, I do share a number of concerns, some of which have been raised in the debate.

    I personally was uncomfortable with the sexual nature of the show given the words ‘Childrens Theatre’ in the company’s title although I rather suspect the cast had little problem with it.
    I was also concerned with the vocal demands of a show which I believe asked too much of young voices – this was an adult show, not only in its content, but in what it demanded of its performers – it was not surprising that many of the voices were cracking in the final performance. I only hope that none of those young voices has been permanently damaged.

    Having been involved in assessing scripts for FCT many years ago, I would agree with Andrew that finding suitable material is not easy. Not only did we look for something exciting, challenging, rewarding and entertaining , but in so far as was possible we tried to ensure that it could be cast from the existing membership, that there was a part for everyone and that it was suitable for young voices. Thus several fantastic shows never made it onto the FCT stage.

    I think that Di is right to say that there is a separation of ideas about where the company is heading although I wonder whether this is due more to a lack of awareness rather than a deliberate rejection of parts of the original ethos. Whilst I applaud the dedication, commitment and vision of those who are involved in moving FCT forward, I can’t help but feel that something important is being sacrificed to ambition. Peter’s inclusion agenda went much deeper than is stated in the company’s aims. I do not think that it is widely known that FCT provided an invisible hand of support to countless youngsters through difficult personal situations. The best person did not always get the part, or get into the company, sometimes it was the person who needed it most. Over the years FCT has been a haven for many youngsters through marriage breakups, bereavement, bullying, struggles with sexuality etc. There are several people out there who clearly would have gone ‘off the rails’ were it not for FCT. I fear that this important social aspect is in danger of being lost. Clearly FCT has the talent and ability to rival the very best, but at what cost? I believe it is a question we should be asking.

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  18. As an audience member, I was very confused by how I felt when I saw the show. It is the first time I have ever gone to a show and was amazed at the performances but actually didn’t like the show. I felt guilty because I should have been enjoying it. However, I wondered whether I shouldn’t be watching FCT performing it but perhaps Forth Adult Theatre.

    I’m not taking away the fact that the performances were amazing, the best I’ve ever seen, but somehow it didn’t gel. I still can’t decide if it was the adult nature of the show – but as has been said FCT have covered adult themes before. Was it the musical content, I don’t think so. Was it the age of the children taking part – they all seemed older, where were the younger cast members.

    Like James I had never realised the older and better ones got to do the Festival show. I hadn’t thought of that as the older ones are studying for exams when the rehearsals are taking place for the Festival show.

    I still feel confused even after reading through other comments. Nevertheless, I would like to congratulate Claire on her superb direction and all her team for what was a fabulous show.
    Jeana Gorman

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  19. Only once more – for those who rush uneccessarily to the defense of J & H, which was wonderful.

    This debate is not about one specific show!!!

    It’s been about FCT for it’s lifetime so far and being aware of it’s future direction.

    Ross, if you think that I would ever use Peter’s ethos to bolster my own opinion you’ve missed the point of the debate.

    Catriona, thanks for seeing the whole picture.

    I hope many more will think about the future direction of our wonderfully talented and precious FCT.

    AMEN to that folks!

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  20. I’m afraid there has to be a little bit of defending J+H since that has been the catalyst for this whole debate. I know it’s not about one specific show yet that and Sweeney Todd seem to be the only shows being mentioned out of a 30 year catalogue, as being the problem or leading the company down the wrong path. (Please re read paragraph 3 4 and 5 of my previous post).

    How come there were no complaints during Easter shows gone by as to the lack of older ones? No one asked where all the 16-18 year olds were? Why is that never a problem and yet FCT is still meant to be for 10-18 year olds? Is it not?

    This is a debate which actually should have been happening many years ago and not just now, if we are to be concerned about the future of the company. (Which I don’t think we should be.)

    When I first auditioned for the company 11 years ago, for Oklahoma I was told it was going to be for an older cast, and not to get my hopes up. I auditioned, and surprise surprise, I never got in, I accepted this as the nature of the beast. I know people were even being told 20 years ago not to audition as they probably wouldn’t get in, because they were too young for that show. Now this is something that we would never say now- and indeed there was a broad range of ages in the company this August, yet as I have said previously, perhaps the company needs to be more specific on this issue, but hopefully it won’t limit the standard of what the company can do and provide for young people in ALL AGES of the spectrum, not just the younger ones.

    Continuing on the subject of inclusion, not just in terms of age but of background, I wanted to make it clear that those involved in the company just now, and who have been involved hands on in recent years are more than aware of the ethos that the company stands for and the haven that FCT STILL provides for certain young members dealing with difficult personal situations. This is still happening now, and it would be wrong to presume that it is simply the best of the best being involved for the sake of a good show.

    What FCT has always done is provide a warm and caring environment for young people of all backgrounds to be included in- and what it is continuing to do, and what it seems to be getting criticised for, is providing a higher quality of production, than ever before.

    There is still inclusion, there is still a mix of ages and the company is still providing excellent shows.

    I would hate to see the company just turn into a baby-sitting club and not succeed in providing ALL the opportunities it originally aimed to.

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  21. Great point Andrew.

    I don’t think FCT is being criticised at all for providing a higher quality of production. Quite the opposite. I actually think the core issue being debated here, is really the choice of production.

    Personally I have no appetite to discuss publicly whether the ethos of the company has been lost and judging from cast comments those of us not involved would be hard pressed to make a convincing argument that it has.

    I’ve also suggested, more than once, that, even if the choice of show was arguably wrong, it’s fair enough to add diversity to the canon of work that FCT should be acknowledged for.

    It’s all about balance over time.

    Cast and crew are clearly very defensive of the choice and some audience members either uncertain or critical.

    We won’t resolve this here, and actually I don’t think it’s an issue; it’s merely, as my father would have said, a matter of opinion (as the man with the wooden leg said).

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  22. I would just like to add on what i have read here! Alot of you think that Jekyll and Hyde is not suitable for a youth company to do! did we pull it off? (YES) did we sell out pretty much every performance because off the audiences spreading the word on how good it is? (YES)! The show as a whole is just one huge challenge for fct and i think we met that challenge big time! Adding what Cameron said as i was also a cast member, not one person felt uncomfortable on that stage because we weren’t doing anything Inappropriate on that stage which i think is a huge well done and a fantastic job to Claire Stewart who directed this show to a standard that is appropriate for a youth theatre company to do! So all i can say is Claire should be getting alot more praise for a fantastic, challenging and appropriate show!

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  23. i never said that anyone has critisised Claire. All i am saying is she has not been getting the praise as she should be getting for such a amazing job she has done!

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  24. I think Matty’s post sums up the problem nicely, this material is entirely appropriate for a youth group and the current cast and director of FCT did a magnificent job of staging it in such a spectacular fashion.

    The problem some people had with it was that we are Forth CHILDREN’S Theatre!

    I personally didn’t have a problem with it and accept that the age requirements for people in the cast vary with every show, this one because of the nature of the subject matter needed older children to play most of the parts, but so does The Sound of Music, once you have cast Gretel, the youngest Von Trapp child (who has to be able to sing, dance and remember quite long scenes) the rest of the Von Trapp children have to be older! And all of the other parts are adults (soldiers or nuns etc) so there is very little chance of young children getting a part each time we stage that particular show but no-one seems to complain when we do that.

    By the opposite token Annie, Oliver, The Raged Child and the like are awash with little urchins with limited parts for older kids. What goes around comes around.

    Having just read all the post again, I would just like to draw this conclusion.

    We all seem to agree that.

    1. This was a magnificent production, well directed, staged and acted. Even if some felt part of the content was pushing the boundaries for a Children’s group.

    2. FCT still has a strong sense of the original ethos and we all want that to continue.

    3. The choice of show influences the age of the cast required and special attention should be paid to this to ensure a balance over time.

    4. We all love FCT and feel very strongly about it’s future

    5. Thom Dibdin can’t count!

    I’m just glad we agree on so much and continue to work together as a team!

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  25. Well. What a magnificent development in this conversation and I think the award underpins Philip’s eloquent summing up of this strand and my own review. Remember that? (i think you’ll find it was glowing and 4.5 starts in case you forgot!)

    Congratulations one and all.

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  26. don’t want to comment on the debate but thank you for your congratulations on the award. lots of cast and production team are following this at the minute so just want to say on record a massive well done and congratualtions to all! very proud of the whole cast and the amazing production team who are all a credit to fct

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