Youth take on dark tale

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE -

APE, tor­ture, abuse, op­pres­sive stan­dards of liv­ing and the is­sues as­so­ci­ated with them are heavy sub­ject mat­ter for any per­for­mance com­pany, let alone a youth the­atre group.

But they’re the sub­jects The Arts Cen­tre Gold Coast’s Youth The­atre Project ex­plores in the gritty young adult play Eyes to the Floor, which opens next week.

Based on true events which oc­curred at the Hay In­sti­tu­tion for Girls, in NSW, in the ’60s and ’70s, the dra­matic and mov­ing piece tells the tale of emo­tional sur­vival in an in­sti­tu­tion de­ter­mined to break the hu­man spirit.

Re­bekah Cor­nell, 16, who plays Hay’s sec­ondy­oungest in­mate, Danielle, says por­tray­ing such an emo­tion­ally dam­aged char­ac­ter is ‘‘chal­leng­ing’’.

‘‘She was abused as a child, was raped and beaten and be­came preg­nant very young. She was drugged and her baby was taken away from her and she be­gan to lose her mind,’’ Cor­nell says.

‘‘I did a lot of re­search on what hap­pens to peo­ple when they are in­car­cer­ated in a psy­chi­atric ward and it was re­ally eye-open­ing. ‘‘It has been a very in­tense role.’’ Brit­tany Mus­cat, 20, plays 14-year-old Emma, who pro­vides ‘‘pos­i­tive light’’ to the dark show.

‘‘She brings the joy into their hor­ri­ble world,’’ Mus­cat says.

‘‘It has been an in­ter­est­ing show to be a part of and there is a great mix of young ac­tors in­volved. There is a lot of tal­ent among the youth here. ‘‘It has been a great ex­pe­ri­ence.’’ Ge­or­gia Bren­nan, Tori Bai­ley, Valentina Di­azBy­ers, Clara Aleck­son, Brynne Mor­ris, James Bolton and Macken­zie Fearn­ley round out the cast.

Di­rec­tor An­drea Moor says Eyes to the Floor was writ­ten for a youth cast de­spite the graphic and chill­ing na­ture of the script.

‘‘It was just hor­ren­dous what hap­pened to these girls at Hay,’’ she says. ‘‘Ev­ery bit of their per­son­al­ity was stripped and they were not al­lowed to speak and al­ways had to keep their eyes to the floor.

‘‘It is a won­der­ful and mov­ing pro­duc­tion with some hu­mour in there as well de­spite its dark­ness.’’

The youth the­atre project pro­vides young per­form­ers with guid­ance un­der the di­rec­tion of Moor and Soap­box The­atre’s Jes­sica West­head.

The Arts Cen­tre has pre­sented two Youth The­atre Projects in pre­vi­ous years, stag­ing Oh The Hu­man­ity and Other Ex­cla­ma­tions! in 2010 and The Good Doc­tor last year.

opens at The Arts Cen­tre Gold Coast on Wed­nes­day and plays nightly at 7.30pm un­til Oc­to­ber 6.

A scene from The Arts Cen­tre Gold Coast’s Youth The­atre Project pro­duc­tion which opens on Wed­nes­day.

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