WATCH: Award-warning playwright comes to Adeyfield School in Hemel Hempstead ahead of performances in Aylesbury
Award-winning playwright Simon Stephens visited Adeyfield School ahead of the National Theatre's internationally acclaimed production, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time heading to Aylesbury Waterside Theatre next month.
Simon is an associate at the Lyric Hammersmith and the Royal Court Theatre.
His mission is to go into schools around the country to meet young people and talk to them about working as a writer.
He said: “I’m talking to kids about my life and what it’s like to be a playwright, what it’s like to be a writer, what it’s like to be an artist in any form, with a hope that I might inspire the young people to go on and make art, and make theatre themselves.”
The informal talk gave students the chance to ask questions ranging from how best to get into the theatre industry to celebrities Simon has worked with, and to his thoughts on new US president, Donald Trump.
Simon’s school visits aim to inspire and motivate students, and empower them to feel confident about pursuing a career in the arts.
He said: “These outreach talks are important on lots of different levels. I find young people really inspiring. I am constantly galvanised and motivated by the intelligence and imagination of our teenagers.
“I made it a condition of these visits that it’s only state schools I go to, because I think sometimes that kids who go to these schools might not feel like they’re entitled to be a writer, to be an actor, they might not feel as though they’re allowed to.
“And I think it’s important to reach out to them – not only for the kids, but for the future of theatre and arts in this country.
“If the art of the next generation is going to be interesting and vital it needs to be made by all kinds of people.”
Adeyfield head of Key Stage 4, Natalie Black, said: “We really like to encourage our students to meet inspirational speakers so they can get a feel for life outside of school, and all the opportunities they have in a world that, for some of them, is not always that accessible.
“I think they’ll take a lot of laughter away from today’s talk and Simon’s important message about failure – he was really clear that it’s OK to fail. That’s something we try and instil in our students, that’s it’s OK to make mistakes. You can still be successful.”
In The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon’s bestselling novel will be brought to life on stage for the second time at the Waterside, having played to almost 400,000 people during the 2014-2015 tour.
It tells the story of 15-year-old Christopher Boone. He stands beside Mrs Shears’ dead dog, which has been speared with a garden fork, it is seven minutes after midnight and Christopher is under suspicion. He records each fact in a book he is writing to solve the mystery of who murdered Wellington.
He has an extraordinary brain, and is exceptional at maths while ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. He has never ventured alone beyond the end of his road, he detests being touched and distrusts strangers.
But his detective work, forbidden by his father, takes him on a frightening journey that upturns his world.