Hampshire Youth Theatre stage Great Expectations

Chris Cox, Sam Hughes, Laurie McNamara and Emma Uden who are appearing in Great Expectations .
Chris Cox, Sam Hughes, Laurie McNamara and Emma Uden who are appearing in Great Expectations .
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Challenging, exciting and rewarding – three words used to describe Hampshire Youth Theatre by its students who are starring in Great Expectations at the Nuffield Theatre, Southampton, from tonight until Saturday.

The annual project for those aged 14 to 21 features 48 young people in the Dickens’s classic. Four cast members are Chris Cox, Sam Hughes, Laurie McNamara and Emma Uden, who lives in Portsmouth and is a member of the Groundlings Theatre Company.

A few days into rehearsals they were already being plunged in at the deep end, as Sam says: ‘It’s just a crazy new experience you’re thrown into.’

Emma adds: ‘Everyone’s really friendly though, and it’s amazing how you all come together straight away and just get on with what you have to do. We aren’t wasting any time.’

Helping young actors to further their skills, the Hampshire Youth Theatre is all about preparing them for potential acting careers.

‘It’s very detailed compared to other drama I’ve done.’ explains Emma.

‘You get much more into the character and back story and all the intricacies of it. We’re acting on a higher level than we’ve had the opportunity to before, which is great. It’s much more in-depth than A-Levels.’

Chris says: ‘It’s true that the more you put into it, the more you get out. But it is a really good experience of the industry, because you’re treated like professionals and get to spend all day every day doing something and not just one evening a week.’

Great Expectations follows the trials and tribulations of Pip as he grows up. And being involved brings a lot of excitement for the cast.

Laurie says: ‘It’s really nice to see everything suddenly come together, because we all work apart separately over the rehearsal period. It’s like putting a jigsaw together.’

Emma adds: ‘It’s a great feeling, especially because you aren’t saying it to yourself, it’s just everyone telling everyone else how amazing it is.’

The cast regularly tries new things in the build-up to the show, such as being on stage or just reading lines as part of a group.

For Emma it’s about doing more than you expect.

She says: ‘I love taking everything further than you expect to, not just blocking the show and line learning.’

Chris says: ‘It’s fun to have a laugh with everyone, even when you’ve done something wrong, and then everyone just gets straight back into working on the show.’

Tickets: £8 to £10 on (023) 8067 1771 or go to nuffieldtheatre.co.uk.