Young actors to tread the boards as curtains re-open at Princes Theatre

The Princes Theatre is due to open its curtains once again and kick-off a stellar programme with a hard-hitting youth performance.

Princes Youth Theatre is bringing its production of DNA to the stage later this month, subject to phase three of the Government’s Covid-19 roadmap going ahead as planned.

Scheduled to take place across three nights from 19-21 May, DNA will be the first performance in the Clacton theatre – this year celebrating its 90th anniversary – since it was forced to close its doors in March 2020 due to Coronavirus.

Capacity has been reduced to just 50 seats at the venue for the youth theatre run to ensure it complies with Covid-19 restrictions, with social distanced seating in place along with other measures such as hand sanitiser stations and frequent cleaning regimes.

DNA, written by Dennis Kelly, is a compelling contemporary piece following the silent yet intimidating 16-year-old Phil, played by Alfie Pullum, and his fearful following of misfits as they come to terms with the consequences of a practical joke that ends in tragedy.

The piece deals directly and powerfully with hard-hitting, relevant issues, such as violence, guilt, unrequited love, tyranny and solidarity within a group of adolescents who have placed themselves at the edge of society.

Directed by Princes Youth Theatre Group Director Melissa Wenn and award-winning Daniel Barnard, himself a youth theatre member, rehearsals for the play have been taking place online during the latest Covid-19 restrictions.

“The aim of producing a play during lockdown was to engage the young cast to create something exciting and thought-provoking. All of our projects address issues which have an impact on young people and theatre is the perfect tool to address some of the very complex, worrying issues that affect our young people today,” Miss Wenn said.

“Rehearsing the play on Zoom produced many challenges, but we felt it was so important to keep the young people creatively connected. We have spent a lot of time working on character and context discussing the issues raised throughout the play and it has given the cast of ten, aged from 14-17-years-old, something to focus on and work towards.

“The online lag made it difficult for the cast to communicate and interact with each other, also to maintain pace and energy, and to visualise the staging. But the cast is extremely talented and have risen to the challenge in strange and difficult circumstances. We are all very excited to get back to performing at the theatre.”

Shows begin at 7.45pm, and are not recommended for under-14s. Tickets: £10 adults; £6 concessions available from the Princes Theatre Box Office on 01255 68 66 33 or

DNA begins a jam-packed schedule of shows at the Princes Theatre for the rest of 2021, again subject to Covid-19 restrictions – which will see capacity initially reduced to 50%.

Upcoming performances include everything from musical tribute acts, live wrestling and top comedy including from Chris Ramsey.

The full programme can be seen on the Princes Theatre website, where the latest season brochure can also be downloaded.

Alex Porter, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Tourism at Tendring District Council, which runs the Princes Theatre, added: “We are really excited to get the Princes Theatre re-opened in what has been a very difficult time for arts venues.

“As a civic theatre we have been more insulated than most from the effects of the pandemic, with our theatre staff not only being redeployed to support the council’s wider Covid-19 response but also helping to lead international working groups looking to safeguard theatre’s future.

“We hope audiences are keen to return, in a Covid-secure way, after the long absence of theatre – both to our venue, but also to arts venues right across the district and give them all the support they deserve.”

The DNA cast rehearsing over Zoom. Pictures: Melissa Wenn/Princes Youth Theatre

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