Young and Hungry’s Festival of New Theatre is on again at The Basement. At its core Young and Hungry is about giving young performers a chance to learn their craft alongside industry professionals - wedging their foot firmly in the proverbial door. Each year, New Zealand playwrights submit their work; two are picked, followed by an open audition for cast and crew.
Second Afterlife (Ralph McCubbin-Howell) and Uncle Minotaur (Dan Bain) are this years chosen two. Directing these original works are Leon Wadham, and Katy Maudlin respectively. If you could see Wadham he would be a familiar face as a lead actor from Go Girls, or Auckland Theatre Company’s production of Lord of the Flies, but he’s generously changed tack to bring us Second Afterlife. Katy Maudlin is one part of the two-part genius behind Giant Teeth (from ATC’s Selecta), another youth arts venture from earlier this year. Luckily for you, if you missed out, Maudlin will undoubtedly bring the same unique creative flair to Uncle Minotaur’s mythological world.
To bring you all the inside info, I sit down with actress Holly Hudson (a Young and Hungry veteran after two consecutive years). Following her role in last years ‘Dragonlore, this year Holly plays the Doctor, and dabbles in some puppetry, in the dark and fantastical ‘Uncle Minotaur’.
“This year is more intense in different ways, because it’s a devised piece a lot of the time we go to different places with our characters that we wouldn’t necessarily in a scripted piece, and we get to play around with different ideas. It’s a lot more physical, as well. The way that Katy [Maudlin] directs is oriented towards physical theatre and you’re putting your body on the line a lot, and my last show was quite physical, but this one really takes the cake, ‘cause puppetry is hard.”
For the uninitiated the premise of devised theatre is collaboration and continuous creation, the final show is grown out of experimentation in the rehearsal process with input from all involved. Devised pieces are, at the very least, out of the box, and Uncle Minotaur is no exception.
Holly elaborates, “It’s about a young girl called Greta who has problems with her eyes, goes to see an eye surgeon, and ends up, somehow, seeing a different world to the world that she lives in, and chaos ensues from her seeing these different mythical creatures.”
Classics and drama collide in this show, and coincidentally they were Holly’s top two subjects at school. So, what would she say to someone who loves their school drama class and wants to take it further?
“Look for opportunities.”
And what do you need as a young performer?
“You have to be driven, you have to want to make work and to be part of work. You have to be available and open in terms of ideas, and be honest with yourself. Have an honest relationship with who you are, because you’re never going to make good work if you don’t somehow, somewhere along the line put yourself in there. And you have to be willing to take risks and fuck up… also be reasonably good at reading.”
Listen up, this is particularly sage advice.
Asides from acting (and giving generous counsel) Holly is in her final year of a communications degree, majoring in digital media, but with that behind her up next is a swing at drama school- “If [acting] really is for you it’s really worth continuing and really investing, putting your whole self into it because you realize that your life really doesn’t work the same way without it.”
This passion is the common thread throughout Young and Hungry, and it’s part of what makes it so special. As Holly says, “the people that are doing Young and Hungry are serious and committed to the arts, and as young people you don’t really find that. These people are so focused, and it’s been incredible to work with people that have as much passion as you do. And it’s not just about being directed by somebody who’s in the industry- it’s about meeting the future industry and seeing how amazing it is.
If Holly’s words haven’t already convinced you that you need to see Young and Hungry, here is a self-composed haiku from her for good measure.
“It’s our closing day
Want to be good at acting
So buy a ticket”
Young and Hungry closes tonight at The Basement, so grab yourself a ticket and support this incredible bunch of young people doing what they love. It’s full of passion and all about pushing boundaries, as Holly puts it, “Theatre’s a place that’ll accept anything.”