Dan Hill is thrilled to direct Chichester Festival Youth Theatre – a youth theatre which shaped him as the director he is now.
After six years as a youth theatre member, Dan left in around 2003.
He now returns to direct Crossing Lines, a new play by Anna Ledwich which runs from August 17-24 as a promenade performance in central Chichester.
“The youth theatre definitely set me up to be the director I am now,” says Dan. “I owe everything that I learnt and grew from to my time with Chichester Festival Youth Theatre.”
After leaving the youth theatre, Dan enjoyed the chance to assist youth theatre director Dale Rooks on various shows: “After I was at Chichester, I did some of my own bits and bobs and then I ended up working at The Point in Eastleigh, and I was there for eight years. And then a year and a half ago, I went the independent freelance route, with a focus on working with young people.
“It is incredibly exciting to be directing the youth theatre now. I am highly privileged and honoured that Dale had the faith in me to trust me with this project, especially as it introduces a lot of new elements that we are playing with that are new to the theatre.”
It’s quite a difficult play to describe, Dan says, but the complexities are almost intentional. The play imagines Chichester as a city under threat. Borders are collapsing. Communities uprooted. People are on the move. There is only one route to safety and only one means of communication, via the airwaves… but can they be trusted? Stories connect across time and across technologies as history haunts the present and the city’s young race to escape the dark forces poised to destroy the country they know.
Using audio technology and live action, the performance will take you through the streets of Chichester asking: can an individual alter history by changing the channel?
Locations include Chichester Cathedral, Pallant House Gallery, The Novium Museum and the Bishop’s Palace Gardens. The audience will follow the action on foot.
“The audience will have headphones which is part of the narrative of how the young people connect with each other. It is also a big part of the narrative. The audience will hear the actors and their performance in their ears, but they will also hear a whole sound world coming through.
“We are imagining ourselves in a world where the government is out of control. What is the worst case scenario basically. That is what we are imagining. We are imagining that the government has taken the nation into a republic, but really it is their take on a republic. It is all the worst parts of Big Brother really. It is controlling people’s freedom and their access to culture and deciding what is best for the people. At least, that is their rhetoric.
“And in this world that they find themselves, there is a group of young people that don’t blend in with this world and want to escape. The audience go on a journey of discovery with them while they try to find that way to escape.”
And that shared journey will be a key part of shepherding the audience around from one location to the next in the promenade performance.
“The great thing that Anna has done is that the narrative of the story involves the young company taking the audience with them on this journey. There is an immersive and experiential element. The nature of it all is that the company has got to look after the audience and needs the audience to come with them.”
There is no formal seating and the audience will be required to stand during the scenes.
However, there will be limited seating at each location for those with access requirements, and children may be able to sit on the ground.