The youth of today! A refrain each generation has exclaimed with exasperation. Each generation forgetting what it was to be young, innocent and full of enthusiasm for life. It is easy to see the youth of today as the selfish me generation with way too much time on their hands. Whereas ask the youth themselves and they feel very much voiceless in an increasingly loud society.
David Harrison decided enough was enough and that the droves of talented young performers he was privileged enough to work beside needed a creative outlet. Thus The Kings Collective was born. A group of young performers without constraint, no one telling them what to do or what it means to be young. They are young, living it and want to shout about their experiences from their rooftops.
His refrain being; “We aren't waiting for permission to do our jobs, we are boldly putting on the work we believe in and playing the roles we want to play and inviting the industry to watch us.”
Harrison is committed to his collaboration and felt youth was grossly unrepresented in the Australian Arts industry. He explains;”The seed of inspiration for The Kings Collective was to facilitate the creation and presentation of work by artists who might not have the support or network to do so. It is essentially about empowerment…”
Harrison believes that he is seeing much young talent go to waste, despite preconceptions of who exactly his generation are and what they are capable of achieving; “In our current political climate I believe more and more young people are discouraged from pursuing a career in the arts as it doesn't seem like a viable career. Whether out of fear or concern for their futures, I know so many talented young people that gave up their passions for something more 'stable' and it was crushing.”
The audiences of Sydney will be listening and taking notice when as part of The Fringe, The King’s Collective will be performing their debut production Lepidoptera: An Exploration of Youth; a curated season of three plays about youth.
Harrison has always wanted to stage Out of Gas on Lover’s Leap by Mark St. Germain. Upon watching his now fellow core Collective members work on scenes from This is Our Youth by Kenneth Lonergan and Gruesome Playground Injuries by Rajiv Joseph he realised the three plays would work brilliantly together; “These three plays explore exactly what it feels like to be young all from different angles and I knew that, with the right actors, they would complement each other.”
Out of Gas on Lovers Leap features two bright but troubled, well to do teens celebrating their graduation together on a drive to lovers leap. It is a celebration that is compelling and ultimately heartbreaking.
Cecelia Peters plays Mystery, so named because her mother never could figure out who her father was. Peters sees the name as beautifully sad and indeed it seems to sum up the troubled teen. But Peters says there is something real and powerful about Mystery: “She’s 17, just graduated high school, confused, lost and in love…But the brilliant thing about Myst is she doesn’t let her insecurity shut her up. She’s vocal and wild, and witty, and fun and young and full of all this playfulness…”
This is Our Youth follows forty-eight hours in the lives of three young people walking that knife’s edge between adolescence and adulthood. Georgia Scott plays the role of Jessica Goldman. “She is still very much a girl, trying to navigate the complex adult world. She is desperate to connect with others although she tries to hide this with airs of sophistication and nonchalance.”
Gruesome Playground Injuries tells the story of Kayleen and Doug as their lives intersect at various intervals over the course of thirty years. Megan McGlinchey plays Kayleen and relates to her character’s “…journey to self-discovery as a young woman” as something that is universal to us all.
Joining the core group of The Kings Collective in this series of plays are two brilliant young talents Joshua Brennan and Aaron Glenane, both excited to be working with The Kings Collective. Glenane describes the actors of the Collective as “Incredibly passionate and talented people who MAKE things happen…their ideas are bigger than any individual.”
This is after all what Harrison had in mind. Empowering young people to pool ideas and perform with youthful enthusiasm without restraint. The format is something that should and hopefully will be copied. Brennan sees the format as flexible and proof that “young theatre makers can be seen.”
Harrison must have a knack for this as these three plays sound like they indeed make up a fabulous trinity. Each exploring youth and the challenges faced by young people on the cusp of adulthood. The term Lepidoptera which is the word for a large order of insects that includes moths and butterflies seems like the perfect umbrella term to bring the three plays together.
Whilst the obvious comparison is one of youth finding their wings to fly, Harrison sees it as deeper than that. He says “The fact that these beautiful creatures can break so easily at the slightest touch of the human hand; if you hold them too tightly, you damage their wings and they can no longer fly.”
A powerful thought from someone so young. Harrison is an inspiration to young people who feel constrained and unable to be who they truly wish to be. “I think as we age we learn how to contain and compress our self-expression. When we look at children we see an utter joy and freedom that lives within them, and I think adolescence lies somewhere in between these two modes.”
Lepidoptera is an explosion of youth. Young people performing plays exploring what it is to be young with incredible and heartbreaking sincerity and feeling. Fringe audiences are in for a wild ride.
The Kings Collective is here to stay and you can help. Visit the website to see how you can donate so that they can continue their work. The Kings Collective needs to hang around for as long as possible. Harrison can have the last word:
“…I believe now, more than ever, that we lack a young lifeblood in the arts. This is also the reason I think The Kings Collective is necessary.”
Lepidoptera: An Exploration of Youth is playing at the Sydney Fringe festival
Out of Gas on Lover’s Leap plays 10th – 14th September: Wed-Sat 8pm; Wed & Sat 2pm; Sun 5pm.
This is Our Youth plays 17th – 21st September: Wed-Fri 8pm; Wed & Sat 2pm; Sun 5pm.
Gruesome Playground Injuries plays 24th – 28th September: Wed-Sat 8pm; Wed & Sat 2pm; Sun 5pm.
All shows play in the Downstairs Theatre at The TAP Gallery, Darlinghurst. Tickets are $30 for adults and $25 for concession. ‘Café Shmooz’ open for pre-show drinks and snacks.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.sydneyfringe.com.
For more information, please visit www.sydneyfringe.com and www.thekingscollective.com.au.