Ardent Theatre Company’s new play Rethink highlights the inequality of opportunities breaking into the theatre industry, particularly in the aftermath of Covid. Created and performed by the Ardent8 Ensemle of aspiring actors from disadvantaged backgrounds, it comes to London’s Union Theatre for a week from 26 to 30 October 2021.
Graduation is a day full of celebration and joy. The cloaks, the hats, the bubbles and the dreams all laid bare for the world to see. In July 2020, that class of graduating students had little to celebrate. There were no cloaks, no hats, possibly a bubble but whatever dreams there were, they were soon cut short when the world shut down.
RETHINK is set in the aftermath of that sunny July, when six graduates from a performing arts course on the south coast of England are encouraged to reconsider their careers, in the wake of theatre closures and lack of opportunity. According to a Government-backed advertising campaign, their next job could be in cyber, they just don’t know if yet. What choice do they have?
Written by the young performers in collaboration with co-creative director of Ardent Theatre Company Andrew Muir, who also directs the piece. The project was born of a recognition that often the most talented of actors will have given up before they have realised their full potential.
Ardent8 was launched in Dorset in 2016 and the inaugural group’s production Sacrifice was staged to acclaim at Soho Theatre and Jellicoe Theatre, Poole in 2018. The programme is being expanded across the country with partners currently including Manchester Metropolitan University and Leicester De Montfort University.
Award-winning playwright/director Andrew Muir said:
“It has been a joy to create Rethink with such a talented and generous group of young people. The play gets to the heart of their own frustrations – feeling powerless confronted by a lack of opportunity to follow their dreams due to a lack of funds, knowledge, networks and stuck distanced from meaningful cultural offerings.
Muir continued: “From working-class backgrounds, these young people are passionate about acting, yet even considering a career in theatre was alien to them – even before Covid grounded them entirely. Through Ardent8, we hope to shift things in their favour, so that our theatre ecology can benefit from their talent and perspectives.”
What the critics say
Praise for Ardent Theatre Company’s Sacrifice:
“The presentation of the script is outstanding as the performers are snappy and make words buzz with energy as the exchanges go on. Overall, the work the whole cast put in pays off, as their performances shine through”
Rewrite This Story
“Muir managed to tackle a handful of topics without leaving them underdeveloped. The play touches on racist comments and what makes them acceptable as well as how much people are willing to do for cash… All brilliantly performed by the entire group of actors”
“Delivers a powerful message about the disappointment most performing arts hopefuls will experience in the real world”
Fairy Powered Productions
RETHINK is a play about the aftermath of that sunny July in 2020, when six graduates from a performing arts course on the South Coast of England, are encouraged to think again.
— Ardent Theatre Co (@ardenttheatre) September 17, 2021
About Ardent Theatre
Ardent Theatre was founded in 2014 by Mark Sands and Andrew Muir, with the vision of making theatre a place where no one feels like an outsider. Its aim is to address some of the barriers faced that lead to the shared experience of feeling on the outside; barriers linked to class, dis/ability, race and ethnicity, sexuality, gender, age, location, education and socio-economic deprivation.
It achieves this through the stories it chooses to tell, the people it chooses to employ to tell them, and the audience it engages with to experience them. It is committed to producing theatre that speaks about the world we live in, both newly commissioned writing and established text with a contemporary voice. Productions include This Island’s Mine (King’s Head Theatre, 2019), Sacrifice (Soho Theatre, 2018), Party Lines (Westminster Reference Library, 2015), Flowers of the Forest (Jermyn Street Theatre, 2014).
Andrew Muir is a critically acclaimed writer for stage and screen with works including Take On Me (Dante or Die, National Tour and nominated for Breakthrough Performance, National Rural Touring Awards 2019), The Session (Soho Theatre), Gaugleprixtown (The Kirk @ Theatre Row, Studio 42, New York), Double Sentence (Soho Theatre), Anniversary Sweet (Finborough) and Sacrifice (Soho Theatre). His screenplay, How Soon is Now, won Best Feature Screenplay, INRed Films and his debut radio play, A Perfect Non-Starter was produced for The Verb (BBC Radio3).
Andrew writes extensively for young people and is currently writer-in-residence at Bournemouth & Poole College in Dorset. Recent work for the college includes Tides of Neglect and Life & Death in an Ocean Full of Hope (Lighthouse Theatre, Poole and Paines Plough Roundabout Tent Arts by the Sea Festival). Recent commissions include: Dante or Die / Sheffield Theatres Everybody’s Got To Leave Sometime, Lighthouse Poole / Here & Now The Heart at the Centre of the World, and National Theatre Connections – Andrew’s play, Look Up, is part of the NT Connections 2021.