To the Lyric Hammersmith to see Simon Stephens highly acclaimed new play Morning, fresh form its successful run at the Edinburgh Festival. The young company includes Jo Nastri, who graduated from Drama St Mary's this summer, and puts in a real strong performance as Cat, one of two teenage girls who lure a boy into the park in anticipation of a threesome tie him up and casually kill him.
Like so much of Stephens' work the play suggests a moral vacuum at the heart of our society and paints a picture of a a teenage culture devoid of a direction or anchor. How do we nurture young people when all values seem so relative?
As ever the dialogue is crisp and the interaction between the characters demonstrate the confrontational nature of communication amongst an unpoliticised generation for whom sub textual hint is a poor substitute for direct declarations of desire and entitlement. It's a warning that unless we're clear and intelligent in creating empathy for the developing needs of our children we'll end up incubating monsters for the future. Nihilism may be an essential part of teenage experience, but this work suggests the malaise is more than just a posturing act or a phase we're all going through.
The production is in part an experiment in taking a company of young actors and developing work with them through workshops and rehearsals. It's partially inspired by the pioneering youth theatre work of Sebastian Nübling at the Junges Theater in Basel, and gives full energy to a chaotic aesthetic, with the abandoned debris of each scene strewn about, and a live sound engineer manipulating the soundtrack from his Mac.
It's great to see a company searching so hard to find a theatrical way to speak honestly of the need teenagers have to understand and contextualise their role in an ever confusing and ambivalent world.
Mark is the Academic Director of the Drama Programmes at St Mary's University in Twickenham. He has worked internationally as a theatre director and educator for the past 15 years, focused mostly on youth, community, and conflict resolution work.
As a lecturer Mark taught at Goldsmiths College, Coventry University and was Head of Performing Arts at Canterbury College prior to joining St Mary’s in 2006.
His Professional directing credits include Henry V (One of US?) and Valhalla for RSC Education; The Wind in the Willows, Jack Cade, The Red, Red Robin for Sevenoaks Playhouse; Tender Souls, The Quality of Mercy and Playhouse Creatures for the Ambassadors Theatre group.
Mark is a director of subVERSE Theatre company for whom has directed fringe premieres of Chief, Dinnertime and OxfamC**t at Theatre 503.
Site specific work includes Purka and Shadow on Icelandic volcanoes and Novocento with students from the University of Genoa.