YMT blog

Benjamin Britten

The Dark Tower – Who Is Benjamin Britten?


In celebration of the Benjamin Britten centenary, YMT bring their production of The Dark Tower to the Riverside Studios, Hammersmith. 

The Dark Tower is a response to the 1946 radio play written by Ulster poet Louis MacNiece and scored by Benjamin Britten. Ahead of these performances we ask the question – exactly who was Benjamin Britten?

  • Benjamin Britten was an English composer, conductor and pianist. He was a central figure of 20th-century British classical music, producing a range of works including opera, other vocal music, orchestral and chamber pieces.
  • He started piano lessons when he was seven years old, and three years later began to play the viola.
  • He was one of the last composers brought up on exclusively live music as his father refused to have a gramophone or, later, a radio in the house.
  • Britten was a greatly sought-after conductor and pianist despite being reluctant and nervous at them both!
  • Many singers and musicians admired Britten's conducting, and David Webster even offered him the musical directorship of the Covent Garden Opera in 1952. Unfortunately he declined as he wasn’t confident enough in his ability – crazy!

The Dark Tower comes to Riverside Studios Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th August at 5pm and 8pm, matinee on Monday 26 August 1pm.

Book here: www.riversidestudios.co.uk
Box Office: 02082371111

Great Expectations Charles Dickens Rose Theatre Kingston

Great Expectations – Character Close-Ups


We get up close and personal with the characters of one of Charles Dickens’ greatest novels now made into a musical by YMT.

Showing at the Rose Theatre, Kingston this August, Great Expectations is the classic coming-of-age tale of social class, empire and ambition – and just in case you don’t know the central characters or the storyline, Heather Welsh gives you a quick rundown of who’s who!


“Come gather around and hear the tale that’s unfolding of one boy with Great Expectations. His Christian name Philip, his surname was Pirrup but call him Pip”. The central character, Pip is an orphan and portrayed as both a child and a young man. It is his growth and coming-of-age that brings together the plot and provides the introduction of all the other characters too. Throughout his childhood, Pip dreamed of becoming a blacksmith but gives up that dream to move to London and become a gentleman.

Mrs Gargery

Pip's fiery tempered adult sister, Mrs Gargery raises him after their parents' death but frequently complains of the burden of raising Pip. Her husband's journeyman Orlick attacks her, and she is left disabled until her death.

Joe Gargery

Joe is Pip's brother-in-law and his first father figure. He’s a blacksmith and very kind to Pip who is always honest with him. Joe is disappointed when Pip decided to leave his home and travel to London to become a gentleman rather than be a blacksmith.

Miss Havisham

An elderly spinster, wealthy Miss Havisham is overcome with desire for revenge on her jilted lover who left her at the altar several years before. She takes on Pip as a friend and so Pip suspects she is his sponsor.


Estella is Miss Havisham's adopted daughter who Pip pursues throughout the tale. She’s the daughter of Molly, Jaggers's housekeeper, and Abel Magwitch, Pip's benefactor, however she doesn’t know this. Estella was given up for adoption to Miss Havisham after her mother, Molly, is tried for murder. Miss Havisham ruins her ability to love so she can’t return Pip's affection. She warns him of this over and over, but he doesn’t believe her.

Herbert Pocket

Herbert is Matthew pocket’s son, Miss Havisham’s presumed heir and Pip’s tutor in the “gentlemanly” arts. He shares his apartment with Pip in London and becomes his good friend.

Mr Jaggers

A prominent London lawyer who represents Pip’s benefactor and Miss Havisham, his law practice links many of the characters.


A convict who escaped from a prison ship, Abel Magwitch uses the aliases Provis and Mr Campbell to protect his identity. He treats Pip very kindly and is in fact his patron. Pip pretends Magwitch is his uncle in order to further protect his identity.

Great Expectations is showing at Rose Theatre, Kingston from 29 August – 1 September 2013 at 7:30pm (Matinees Thursday & Saturday at 2:30pm and Sunday at 3pm) www.rosetheatrekingston.org. Box Office: 08444821556.

Space Disco

Soul Music: 5 music genres to compete with Terry Pratchett’s ‘Music With Rocks In’ - by Heather Welsh


Based on Terry Pratchett’s 16th Discworld novel, YMT is putting on the show Soul Music at South Hill Park Arts Centre in Bracknell this August.

It follows the story of Imp Y Celyn aka ‘Buddy’ and a group of musicians’ short-lived yet glamorous career in the group ‘The Band with Rocks In’ whose music was inspired by an addictive new genre ‘Music with Rocks In’.

Enthused by Pratchett’s creation of a completely new genre, Heather Welsh takes a look at the craziest music genres out there:

1. Mathcore

In case you were wondering whether or not to get out your calculator for this genre, actually, Mathcore is a rhythmically complex and jarring style of Metalcore! Like Math rock it makes use of unusual time signatures and has its roots in bands like Converge, Botch and The Dillinger Escape Plan. So put your abacuses away!

2. Epic Doom Metal

It’s epic, it’s doom filled, and I guess you could say it’s a kind of metal music! With a slower tempo and thicker, heavier sound than other metal music, this is a sweeping, ambitious music fit for a graveyard scene in a film, ooh!

3. Space Disco

A fusion of disco music with futuristic themes, sounds and visuals – think boogying in a spacesuit! It is notably inspired by sci-fi films such as Star Wars, Solaris and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

4. Chiptune

Also known as 8-bit music, Chiptune is synthesized electronic music produced by the sound chips of vintage computers, video game consoles and arcade machines (or imitations of these sounds). Think of the noises your old Game Boy used to make and you’ve got it spot on. Fusion genres include Glitch, Skweee and Chip-ska – try to get your head around those names!

5. Schranz

A European style of techno music that originated in Germany, Schranz is based on massive kick drums, driving percussion and distorted, looping synthesizers. Originally Schranz is hard sounding and up-tempo (about 150 BPM) so it’s not something for the faint hearted!

Terry Pratchett’s Soul Music is showing at South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell on Saturday 24 August at 2.30pm & 7.30pm, Sunday 25 August at 2.30pm. Book here: www.southhillpark.org.uk Box Office: 01344 484 123.

Brian Haw

An Interview with Pete Haw


Following the death of Brian Haw, the extraordinary anti-war campaigner who camped outside the Houses of Parliament for 11 years in protest against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, YMT are putting on a musical about young people’s responses to the war on terror.

According to Brian Haw is a highly-charged piece of new music theatre with an important message, in light of this, Heather Welsh talks to Brian’s son Pete about how he feels about the whole thing and reveals some beautiful memories he has of his Dad.

What was your response to the idea of taking such a difficult topic and turning into a musical?

My initial thoughts were that this would be fantastic, appropriate and inspiring. It wasn't until I met the young people and professionals involved that it really hit home what an extraordinary and un-missable opportunity this would be, and after talking and spending time with the cast and crew I knew I could trust them to do an amazing job of the production. However, none of these feelings compared to actually seeing the performance, feeling the emotions, being in the stories as they unfolded ... I was literally breathless, speechless and re-heartbroken by the power and significance of the production.

Why do you think people should see the production?

To witness, experience, and understand the many ways in which my Dad inspired people and the power that one person can have if they choose to use it. To, just for a moment, peek into Dad's world through the lives of his family, and see what a wonderful man he was. To be moved by the musicality, drama and emotion of talented young people.

What do you hope this production will do for young people’s awareness of the war on terror?

I hope that young people seeing this production will become more considerate and open-minded, to realise that not every situation has a clear-cut solution. I would like them to be inspired by the power of one, but at the same time recognise the complexities of being so selfless, determined and loving. Above all, I’d like them to consider that everything possible should be done to find peaceful solutions to the critical dilemmas that they will grow up to face.

And finally, what do you remember the most about your dad?

To sum up Dad in two words: loving and determined. His deep love for his family and the children of his wider family; humanity. His tender cuddles when we went to see him, his constant words of support and encouragement. His unerring, unwavering, indefatigable spirit, against all odds, to hold our politicians to account for the life-changing decisions they make on a daily basis.

According to Brian Haw is showing at Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, London from Tuesday 20 August – Thursday 22 August at 7:30pm.

Edinburgh Fringe

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival - A celebration of arts and entertainment


The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the largest arts festival in the world and takes place this August from the 2nd to the 26th in Scotland’s capital city.

From big names to unknown artists, the festival showcases a great selection of theatre, comedy, dance, physical theatre, musicals, operas, music, exhibitions and events. So with thousands of performances to pick from, Heather Welsh takes a look at just a few of the key acts you should be sure to check out!

Arthur’s Quest: A Medieval Musical

Category: Musicals and Operas
Venue: TheSpace @ Venue45
Dates/Times: 2-17 August, 15:10pm

A handful of YMTers have written, directed and are performing in a musical happening at the Fringe this year! Director Tom Kitney, writers Lydia Shaw and Ed Court and performer Ryan Heenan have all worked with YMT and are now part of the exciting cast for this vibrant British show. Arthur’s Quest is based on the medieval legend of King Arthur and with dragons, swordfights and a touch of magic there’s something for everyone. Featuring a unique, folk-influenced score and an array of interactive content, the musical follows Arthur’s story.

This Is Soap: The Improvised Soap Opera

Category: Comedy
Venue: C Theatre
Dates/Times: 31 July – 26 August, 13:15pm

Ever thought that you were living out your very own soap opera? Or that you had the best ideas to create one? Well now you can! Making a return in C Theatre’s 22nd year, this is the comedy soap that you control. The creators dramatize and improvise your very own soap opera, from Olympic storylines inspired by your suggestions to ideas from daily festival events and the world of TV soaps, every day is different!  This is live, improvised “Battily inspired” (Evening Standard) soaps for you to enjoy.

Coming into Fashion: A Century of Photography at Condé Nast

Category: Exhibition
Venue: City Art Centre
Dates/Times: Mon-Sat: 10:00-17:00, Sun 12:00-17:00 £5.00 (£3.50)

If you like fashion and photography, you’ll love this. The internationally acclaimed exhibition showcases over 150 rare photographs and original magazines from the Condé Nast archives. Condé Nast Publications launched the career of several famous fashion photographers via magazines like Vogue and Glamour. Spanning the last 10 decades, the exhibition displays early works by some of the biggest names in fashion photography including Helmut Newton and David Bailey as well as some newer photographers too. Strike a pose!

Snakes! The Musical

Category: Musicals and Operas
Venue: Just the Tonic at The Caves
Dates/Times: 1-25 August, 22:20pm
Suitability: 16+ (contains strong language)

Winner of the ‘Pick of The Fringe’ award at Reading Fringe Festival, this is a musical about making a musical! A group of young actors have written one based on a film about some snakes on a place, the only catch is that they need £50 million to produce it! With rave reviews so far, this show takes a closer look at modern entertainment, addresses the compromise of artistic merit for box office returns and demonstrates you should never work with (venomous) animals…!

Jamie MacDowell and Tom Thum

Category: Music
Venue: Underbelly, Cowgate
Dates/Times: 1-25 August, 20:50pm

Australian rhythm and word act Jamie MacDowell and Tom Thum are a mix of heart-felt vocalist/guitar player and a world-class beatboxer! Armed with only a guitar, unique set of vocals and an even more unique voice box capable of producing trumpet and drum sounds – the pair create a totally unique act. Expect the un-expected with these two!