I sat down on Friday with New Youth’s co-directors Alberto Micheletti and Dominic Kimberlin and producer Clarence Leong to talk a little bit about their show coming to St Andrews’ Barron next week. It should be noted that this was a meeting that was planned nearly a month in advance by Clarence, an impressive foresight for someone as busy as he is. It was no surprise to me that in conversation, both co-directors noted the ease and professionalism of the cast and crew of this show. Dominic, who has been involved with Mermaids for several years, thinks this might be the most no-nonsense cast he has ever had the pleasure of working with.
Why New Youth? Or, maybe more importantly, what is it? New Youth is filling a niche in the St Andrews theatre repertoire that easily goes unnoticed: Chinese theatre. It is a play by Hang Cheng, translated by Jon Noble. The play is sponsored by the Bu Er Magazine, a student publication that is pioneering a unique scoop of China through cross cultural dialogue. The production team was determined to put up a show that would show the St Andrews population the greatness of Chinese theatre, and what they’ve been missing out on. This collaboration with Bu Er has extended the possibility of Chinese theatre in St Andrews further; the Chinese Society is putting on drama at their New Year Gala for the first time this year. We discussed the nuance of Chinese theatre in our interview, and I was surprised by the confident background knowledge that the team had. They talked about how the narrative nature of Chinese theatre is relatively recent, that past theatre was less focused on prose than what we have today. The piece, they say, ‘defies genre’.
When I asked about their favorite part of the process, the response from all three was the support of the team. Alberto was fundamentally concerned on expressing his gratitude for the creative support of Clarence and Dominic, as well as the rest of the team, whose ideas helped shape the production’s set, staging, and even pronunciation of character names. Clarence apparently sat down and recorded himself reciting the names of each character so that the cast would remain consistent and have a track to practice to. Like so many productions this year, the cast has been created from a pool of first-time Mermaids. Many of the cast members are study abroad students, which was something Alberto took to heart. After his study abroad experience, he is excited to have New Youth function as a positive highlight of other students’ experiences. (If you cannot already tell, these are some lovely guys. I am sure their generosity and intellect will translate onto the stage.)
When I asked what things the audience should look out for, they said that the audience will be surprised by what comes to the stage physically. I was excited to hear their promise of big and strange props and set pieces coming to a black box theatre known for the minimalism it inspires in St Andrews theatre. They assured me this was going to be a play like nothing else you have seen this year.
I am not surprised, judging by the teaser video that has been released by the team.
New Youth goes up in the Barron Theatre on the 24th of November; I am looking forward to being dazzled. I will see you there.
To reserve your ticket email barronboxoffice@st-andrews