Young actors clash in Lenny’s gritty new play

Young performers from Brighouse theatre school Exit 25 are taking to the stage at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds on Saturday with one of their most challenging productions.

The cast has had to get to grips with theatre and film skills, dance and music as well as dealing with the thought-provoking subject matter of knife crime.

Exit 25, which holds classes at Brighouse Assembly Rooms on Sundays, is presenting Soundclash, a new play by top comedian and TV presenter Lenny Henry.

The play will be staged as part of the National Theatre’s Connections festival for young performers.

Julie Fountain, Exit 25’s founder, said: “This is perhaps one of the most challenging plays the group has ever produced. The members of the cast have all worked very hard and have to get to grips with many new skills.

“Soundclash includes a number of film clips, which form a central part of the play, so the youngsters have had to learn about story boarding, setting, props, costumes and finding venues for filming.

“The group has also worked closely with a dance choreographer to learn the challenging dance and music styles and have participated in rap workshops.”

The cast includes Ella Caton, Niamh Cornelly, Claudia Ellia, Thomas Hudson, Billy Lucas and Michael Whitworth.

Also taking part are Ella Kybaluk, Georgia Long, Damian Wales, Chloe Hall and Libby James.

National Theatre director Philip Sheppard watched Exit 25’s regional performance to give the group feedback.

“This was a fun, feisty, colourful and enjoyable show and they did a great job,” he said, praising the group’s dedication, teamwork and patience.

Lenny Henry started writing the play about rival school sound systems last year but as it developed the story grew to include knife crime and city living.

“I can’t imagine being 14 now and living in a city where young people fighting over a postal code is a common occurrence. The play is about a scared but talented kid who ends up throwing everything away because of his fear of being bullied.”

l Soundclash will be part of the Connections festival at West Yorkshire Playhouse on Saturday at 7pm. Tickets are £5, from 0113 213 7700.