Guernsey Press

New director, 17, wins three awards, her play three more

YOUTH came to the fore at this year’s Gadoc One Act Play Festival, with 17-year-old Lily Becker carrying off three awards for her direction of Lockdown, which won another three awards besides.

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First-time director Lily Becker was named best director at the festival for CDAA’s Lockdown, which won six trophies in all, including the top award for the production with the highest marks. Picture by Simon De La Rue, 32156385)

The Cheshire Dramatic Arts Academy production of Douglas Crave’s half-hour play won acclaim for its suspenseful portrayal of students left alone in a US high-school, unsure whether an official lockdown is a real emergency or a drill. All the cast were aged 17 or 18.

Miss Becker was loaded down with silverware after winning best director under-21, best new director and best director, while the production won awards for getting the most marks from the adjudicator for a cast under-21, the most marks for any play at the festival and best under-18 performance for Sam Davidson.

‘It felt absolutely amazing to be given so many trophies,’ Miss Becker said. ‘I couldn’t be prouder of my cast and crew.’

Having had such success at the first time of asking, she said she would be ready to take on any further directing opportunity as soon as it arises. However, she plans to focus on performance in the short term – something in which she has a great deal more experience.

‘I’m sure that will not be my last time directing, though,’ she said.

Like the other seven plays at the festival, Lockdown was performed just once but Miss Becker did not rule out the possibility of another performance – or run – being organised.

‘There may be a chance but we’ll just have to wait and see,’ she said.

Chris Baglin, who visited from Wales to act as adjudicator for the festival, said it had acted as a showcase for the skills of an especially accomplished range of young performers.

Adjudicator Chris Baglin said the festival had showcased the skills of young actors who ‘could do anything they put their minds to’. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 32146292)

‘It’s great to see so many kids getting on stage,’ he said

‘People say “the children are our future” but they’re not the future, they’re the now. They are ready and they are giving their all. They are more willing than most adults to be directed, to experiment and to be creative.’

New festival director Jenny Falla made a special effort to get young actors involved in this year’s festival – following a significant interruption to drama education during the Covid pandemic – and was delighted to see 132 roles being filled by children in eight productions.

Avril Earl directed a cast of 25, of whom only one was over 16.

Her dance and theatre school’s production of The Untold Story of Rose Red won two awards.

‘Everybody had a speaking role, so we’re really trying to develop those less confident or slightly more inexperienced actors,’ she said. ‘They’ve made me very, very proud.’

Coco Despres, who played Rose Red, said she had started out ‘just saying the lines, but each time I did it, getting notes and improving and making it bigger’.

Katie Luxon, left, who played the gullible Ali Barbara – taken in by a persuasive genie played by Mia Larbalestier in The Genuine Genie – won the Rollie Wolley Memorial Trophy for the outstanding performance by an individual at the festival. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 32146263)

Katie Luxon, 14, won the Rollie Wolley Memorial Trophy for the most outstanding performance by an individual for her portrayal of Ali Barbara in Gadoc’s The Genuine Genie, directed by Sophie Larbalestier.

Mr Baglin highlighted her energy in opening the 40-minute performance, as she was alone on stage for a long time from the start.

‘I felt a little bit apprehensive about it,’ she said, ‘but literally the moment I stepped on stage, it all went away and I just felt at home and I felt really good about it.’

Arts podcast

You can hear from some of the directors and performers and from the adjudicator on the June edition of the Guernsey Press Arts Podcast, available via our website or via your chosen podcast provider.