21 June 2023

Young talent's time to shine with theatre performers to take cues from feedback

| James Day
Start the conversation

Emily O’Mahoney, 18, is part of Canberra Youth Theatre’s Emerge Company, which is performing as part of the Uncharted Territory Festival from 14 to 16 July. Photo: Canberra Youth Theatre.

Next Tuesday at Smith’s Alternative, a group of young performers will put on a brave face as they showcase their theatrical works to the public for the first time.

Scratch, organised by the Canberra Youth Theatre (CYT), is an informal event for 16-to-25-year-old members to receive critical feedback on their acts that are still under construction.

A variety of five-minute acts will be performed, from stand-up and sketch comedy to solo musical numbers, and plays in their early draft stages.

READ MORE Canberra Youth Theatre incubates the theatre greats of the future

“Over the past couple of months, they’ve been working on these pieces, so next Tuesday will give them an opportunity to find out what works and what doesn’t,” CYT artistic director Luke Rogers says.

“This will give these kids some constructive feedback in a healthy atmosphere, so they can pull together a great performance.”

woman speaking into mic

Included among the theatrical performances will be singer-songwriters who have crafted original material for the Scratch night. Photo: Canberra Youth Theatre.

Ashleigh Butler, 22, who participated in last year’s Scratch event, says that despite the daunting prospect of putting your creation out there, the experience is rewarding.

“I don’t think you’ll ever feel ready for that feedback,” she says.

”You may as well get it because it can be so helpful and is going to happen anyway at that final show.

“Also, Luke is there to guide the discussion, so we’ve never had anyone experience a real mean reaction during the process.”

Last year’s performance concluded with an engaging conversation on the ideas of internet culture, specifically what it is like to be cancelled and all the social dynamics that surround it.

Audience members were asked whether they were scared about being cancelled for anything, which, according to Ashleigh, quickly evoked a survey of people’s thoughts on the subject.

Luke says the atmosphere of Smith’s Alternative is perfect for the Scratch event, as it provides a comfortable place for the young artists to come together and build their confidence in a creative pursuit that can often be a lonely struggle.

two female actors on stage

The Canberra Youth Theatre members hone their acting skills. Photo: Canberra Youth Theatre.

One show on the night is Sympathetic Resonance, an experimental theatre work that, according to one of its creators, Emily O’Mahoney, “traces how one word, screamed or whispered, sung or left unspoken, can change the course of our lives”.

“It’s really just a performance trying to present the beauty in the minutia of our lives,” she says.

Through a collage of scenes and characters, the performance, like all others on stage for the evening, will give audiences an idea of what the actors are trying to achieve.

READ ALSO $22 million allocated for public school improvements as part of annual funding program

Ashleigh and her colleagues will be presenting a scene on the relationships you make as a young person in Canberra.

“It begins from graduating in high school, where you have your set group of friends, to university, where you begin to meet all these new people who’ve come from all over the country to study in the Capital,” Ashleigh says.

“There’s a unique blend of complicated dynamics at play, which, upon going through a startling crisis, results in a distinct reaction from each of the characters.”

Scratch will start at 7 pm on Tuesday (20 June) and you can buy the $5 tickets either at the door of Smith’s Alternative or via this link.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.