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A play written in a week by a Norwich teenager is heading for the Edinburgh Fringe

PUBLISHED: 07:09 28 July 2017

Six Toes Theatre Company. Picture: Six Toes Theatre Company

Six Toes Theatre Company. Picture: Six Toes Theatre Company

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The drama of university freshers’ week is the subject of a play written and performed by Norwich students

Six theatre-loving students will be staging a world premier next Friday.

And after a single performance in Norwich the teens and 20-somethings are taking their play to the Edinburgh Fringe.

Freshers is about a group of students beginning life at university – although 19-year-old playwright Heather Kelly is the only one of the members of Six Toes Theatre Company to have left home so far.

The group originally planned to perform a published play, but when they could not organise permissions in time, Heather suggested she could try writing a script.

In a single week she created Freshers.

“None of us have ever been to university but I have really enjoyed researching and writing about it,” she said. “It is almost like we are living that university lifestyle in the play.”

It is not quite her first play. That was Are You Paying Attention? written and performed when she was still a sixth former. And it did not shy away from tackling difficult subjects ranging from religion and relationships to homophobia and suicide.

Heather describes Freshers as a dark comedy, and said: “The play is a muddle and mix of the hilarious and troubling stories that I have heard from friends currently at uni, and from people passing on their brothers’ and sisters’ stories about that very exciting, and perhaps in some cases scary, time.”

The 45-minute play focuses on freshers’ week and as well as drawing on the experiences of friends and acquaintances, Heather adds in university rivalries and a few more sinister themes.

“I chose the subject because I have taken what I consider to be the riskier options of not going to university,” said Heather. “I wanted to write a play that tackled my opinions and frustrations with the education system, correcting what I believe to be misconceptions about young people and tackling the large class divide in this country made all the more prominent by higher education systems such as university.”

The six friends all attended Norwich’s Theatre Royal Youth Company and Six Toes member Charlotte Pound said: “We owe so much to David Lambert and each and every one of the Arts Course tutors past and present. They have inspired us and been integral to our development and love of acting. We would not be where we are, doing what we are doing, without the time and dedication each of them has put into us and our training over the years and we cannot thank them enough.”

The company name comes from the group’s love of Norwich.

“Each of us has grown up in Norwich and we have all been a part of the ongoing internal jokes that due to its small community many of us are supposed to have extra fingers and toes,” said Heather. “With six of us in the company this seemed a subtle but fitting tribute to the city we love!”

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The first performance of Freshers is at Stage Two at Norwich Theatre Royal on Friday, August 4. It will then be performed at Greenside’s Mint Studio, Edinburgh, as part of the Edinburgh Fringe, from Monday August 14 to Friday, August 18. Tickets for the preview night are expected to sell out but the new company is hoping to take the play to more venues, locally and nationally, in the future.

Six Toes is also hosting a launch night including live music and a pub quiz, at the Garden House pub, Norwich, 4.30-9pm on Thursday August 3. Tickets £3 from sixtoestheatreco@gmail.com

CAST

Matthew Doswell, aged 19.

Matthew hopes to go to drama school to study acting next year. His interest in theatre began when he studied the subject at A-level. He went on to join the Theatre Royal Youth Company and plays Max, who is about to start a maths degree, in Freshers.

Alistair Hunt, aged 18.

Alistair fell in love with theatre as a child, when he played the Sheriff of Nottingham. He has been a member of several youth theatre companies, including 11 years with Norwich Theatre Royal Youth Company.

He has enjoyed travelling in Europe during a gap year and will soon be auditioning for drama schools. He plays Jamie, a lad who finds university might not as much about the ‘bevs’ as he had hoped.

Heather Kelly, aged 19.

Heather not only wrote Freshers, she is also playing the part of ditzy, innocent Millie, Heather initially trained as a dancer, before moving to acting and writing.

Charlie O’Brien, aged 17.

Charlie is deciding between auditioning for drama school and studying film production at university and plays

Luke, the life and the soul of every freshers’ party.

Charlotte Pound, aged 22.

In September Charlotte will be heading to The Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, in London, to study acting. She plays Finley, who is also about to start her first year at university, as a psychology student. Little does Finley know, her own psyche is soon to be put to the test when she runs into a familiar face...

Sam Todd, aged 21.

Sam has played lead roles with youth theatre companies and performed in professional shows at Sewell Barn and Gorleston Pavilion Theatre.

“I’m still trying to work out if I want to study at a drama school,” said Sam “A career in the industry is always the aim, but how I get there is a tricky question.”

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