Our reigning champions tell their stories: Marlborough Young Actors aka Quirky Bird Theatre

HJ1APF 2nd act

Marlborough Young Actors aka Quirky Bird Theatre perform ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ by William                              Shakespeare, directed by Anna Friend, at hj1act 2015. (Photo credit: Ian Laurie, Take One)

As we look forward to another year at The Harold Jolliffe One-Act Play Festival, we’re following up our recent story on our reigning champions in the adult category (read it HERE) by turning the spotlight on our reigning youth champions.

At what was their hj1act debut, they performed a specially adapted, one-act version of William Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, directed by Anna Friend, winning them the youth title as well as coming in as the over-all festival runners-up.  This was a bold, highly creative production with ingenious use of staging, costumes, light and sound which saw just eight young actors romp through one of Shakespeare’s funniest plays.

Now with a brand new name – Quirky Bird Theatre – and a bright new look, we caught up with their award winning director Anna Friend…

hjHQ: Welcome Anna!  We’d love to hear your take on winning in 2015 and preparing to defend your title in 2016. How’s it all going?

ANNA: Off the starting blocks….

So this week has seen us, at Quirky Bird Headquarters, at the very beginning of our journey back to compete at the hj1act Festival in April. It’s a little bit weird and scary to fill out an entry form for a play that has yet to take shape, let alone be ready for the world, however, it’s exciting to know that we will be returning, with our trophies in hand, with a very different offering from last year…and a very different name!

Last year, we won our awards as Marlborough Young Actors with a remastered version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and although we are entering in the Youth Category once more, my theatre company has undergone a metamorphosis! With a new name and full rebrand, Quirky Bird Theatre hatched successfully last September and has been growing nicely ever since. Our entry this year will be an extract from Polly Stenham’s Tusk Tusk, a very challenging piece about family loyalty and making choices. In contrast to last year, there will be just 3 actors on stage, rather than the 8 who so deftly created the 16 characters needed for our piece, and the action will be less controlled chaos more crafted emotion.

The choices I’m having to make now, as we begin our rehearsals is which extract do I want the hj1act audience to see….should I leave them hanging, dying to know more? Do I allow them to see the endgame without full disclosure of the circumstances…..either way, it will  be a compelling piece and I’m delighted at the cast I have been able to put together. From Yasmin Priestner-Burton making her debut playing the 7 year old Finn to Rosie Walker, back to defend her title as Best Youth Performer, I’m confident that we will give the audience plenty to think about and applaud.

Now, we just need to get back to the rehearsal room…..

hjHQ: Good luck with rehearsals and huge thanks Anna for taking time out of what we know to be a very hectic schedule to chat with us today. We can’t wait to see Quirky Bird Theatre return to hj1act this year with what is sure to be a fantastic festival finale on Saturday 16th April.

Anna Friend_Quirky Bird Theatre 2

Anna Friend, reigning youth champions’ director

Meanwhile, if you’d like to see more of Anna’s work, have a look at Quirky Bird Theatre’s Facebook page HERE, Wroughton Passion Play’s page HERE and her collaboration with Swindon’s Gatecrash Theatre HERE.


COMING SOON:  Pewsey Vale Amateur Dramatics Youth Society return to hj1act!


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If you have a story you’d like us to include here in our blog, or if there’s something you’d like us to write about, let us know at hj1act@gmail.com  So long as it’s festival/drama/local theatre centred, we’ll definitely give it a look!

The Harold Jolliffe One-Act Play Festival supports  SWINDON 175
Celebrating 175 years since the birth of Swindon as a railway town        
Find out more HERE and HERE
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Posted in 2015, 2016, Companies

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