Junior theatre in Bahrain

Behind the scenes with the Music and Stage for Kids group Discuss this article

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What is it they say in the theatre about never working with kids or animals? Well the guys at MASK – Music and Stage for Kids – don’t seem to have got the message, they’re currently in preparation for a production of Annie, the tale of a little orphan girl’s adventures, involving around 40 youngsters and a dog!

At the helm as producer is Rory Adamson, who’s also chairman of Manama Theatre Group and taking on the role of Daddy Warbucks.

In the midst of a gently chaotic rehearsal at the Brit Club, Rory explains: “MASK started about two and a half years ago and since then we have performed Oliver, the Wizard of Oz and Bugsy Malone but the group doesn’t run all the time.

“Basically, once we decide to put on a production we hold auditions, we run audition workshops and usually have around 100 people trying out which we whittle down to about 40 for the actual cast.”

In this production the young performers are aged from 6 to 17, though the average is 8 to 13, and they attend various schools across the island. Mostly ex-pats, there are eight different nationalities represented and Rory says: “I’m always amazed at the range of talent we have, from acting to singing and dancing, they do it all.”

From the decision stage, each production takes around 4 months to put together with a whole army of adult volunteers working alongside the young performers on everything from costumes to make-up, props and scenery.

The performers are made up of a core group, around half the 40 budding actors have been in all the productions, others come in for specific productions and may then miss one or two due to family or school commitments – the impermanent nature of MASK making it possible for them to pick up and leave off as it suits.

Most will start off in the chorus or with small parts and move up, although Annie lead 12-year-old Scarlett Lowry came to the group late having arrived in Bahrain in time to take a tiny part in the last production and this time moving on to centre stage.

She said: “I love it, it has opened my eyes to something totally new and now I’m taking the lead part, which was a real surprise.”

The Kiwi, who is home schooled, added: “I have kind of mixed emotions, I’m so excited, it’s a lifetime opportunity, at the same time it’s something that is really new to me.

“But when you do something you love you feel happier inside. This is like a dream come true, I have been watching this film since I was 3 years old, so to get the part was incredible.

“It’s also given me the chance to meet other people and make some really good friends so I would highly recommend theatre group to other children, it’s like one big family.”

Rory echoes her sentiments saying: “The children grow in confidence, they find things they can do which they might never have thought possible, they also have the chance to interact with other young people from different schools and of lots of different nationalities and backgrounds.

“It’s a real challenge and they continuously demonstrate just how good they can be.”

Although it’s too late to get involved with the current production, would-be thespians can get news of future events by emailing maskbahrain@yahoo.com to be put on the group’s mailing list.

Annie, British Club of Bahrain, February 2,3,4 with matinees on February 3 & 4. Tickets BD7 (British Club members BD5) available from the British Club, the British School and Al Osra (17728245.).

By Time Out Bahrain staff
Time Out Bahrain,

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