Coming Up: York Theatre Royal Youth Theatre 16+ in The Crescent, at The Crescent, York, January 18 and 19

THE Crescent marks the first time that York Theatre Royal Youth Theatre has devised a site-specific production.

Presented at The Crescent community venue, in The Crescent, off Blossom Street, York, the work is derived directly from time spent there by two companies from the youth theatre's 16+ group.

The former working men’s club, now transformed into a thriving hive of live music and comedy nights, is "an unusual space with lots of stories to tell", according to the young theatremakers.

The two groups have made two separate shows, Project M with education associate Julian Ollive as director, Project N with youth theatre director Kate Veysey. They began their research by looking around the premises and talking to staff and regulars about their experiences, since when they have worked in rehearsals with dramaturg Henry Raby, the York performance poet and playwright, to devise scripts inspired by the research and the space.

"It has pushed us as directors to work in a different way with the groups, arguably a riskier process than working with the starting point of a script, but one that brings new rewards in terms of ownership for the young people over their work,” says Kate.

The piece created with her company has been developed in a character-driven way. "Right from our initial explorations in the space, we had a strong sense of who might be in the different areas at different points during the day," she says.

"It's our aim to provide many flickers of characters in their day-to-day lives and nights out, as if the audience had just glimpsed a few moments while they were waiting at the bar, queuing for the toilets or playing pool. The significant late-night deep conversations mixed with the day to day, the epiphanies and the reflections of the performers, the ladies on a night out and Janice the cleaner."

For his part, Ollive was interested in making a piece that responded to the space wherein the groups were working and that acknowledged what it had been and what it was now.

"I also wanted to work from the group’s own experiences and connections to the themes of community and place, as I was very conscious of not wanting to make a piece solely about working-class men and their lives. So, what we have is not a play; it’s a performance, connecting themes from the club’s past and present alongside our own experiences to the heart and soul of this unique space."

On January 18 and 19, Project M can be seen at 7pm, Project N at 8.15pm and 9.15pm, with tickets on sale at £8.50, children £6.50, on 01904 623568 or at

"It’s a bit different," concludes Ollive. "There'll be dancing, music, sweets and certainly a story or two, some real, others imagined. Come along and experience The Crescent."

Charles Hutchinson