If you're looking for bold theatre from non-professional companies, or are curious about the next generation of talent, here's a great place to start
The List doesn't generally review student theatre – those shows that slip through have simply disguised their status sufficiently. This is not because student theatre doesn't offer quality but because the purpose of student theatre is as much about offering emerging actors and makers the opportunity to experience the thrill of performing within a vibrant festival environment as it is about the audience experience. The parameters of quality and success for a student company are not the same as those for a professional company.
Professional isn't a code-word for good (observe the low star ratings given to companies that have been together for years), but a simple label of status. By not reviewing student work, The List acknowledges that it demands a different kind of critical assessment, one that isn't the same as for professional theatre. It's about the experimentation, the opportunity.
Having said that, student theatre adds to the dynamism of the Fringe, frequently and boldly tackling topics that are relevant and crucial.
While there are plenty of adapted classical scripts and (elsewhere) revivals of Shakespeare, one strength of youth and student theatre is the space it allows for younger performers to explore ideas that are immediate, contemporary and relevant. Student theatre may not share the same intentions as professional theatre, but it does offer excitement, energy, the chance for emerging creatives to shine or fail and, perhaps most importantly, an opportunity for voices that are often excluded from public discussions to be heard.
They will receive reviews elsewhere, but here's a list of ten student shows that promise rich and exciting material for conversation.
The Lucky Durhams
Ah Dinnae Ken A Romeo and Juliet scenario set in the run-up to a second Scottish Independence Referendum, STAG address political turmoil, the decline of Great Britain and the eternal power of love. theSpace @Niddry Street, 3–18 Aug
The Bacchae St Andrew's Mermaids tip their hat to the god whose ritual worship kicked off the entire theatre industry. Unsurprisingly, Dionysus is vengeful and exacting, encouraging cross-dressing and ultimately destroying lives and cities – just like the Fringe itself. Greenside @Infirmary Street, 13–25 Aug
Big Love Another classical script, this time Aeschylus' Suppliants adapted by Charles Mee places the Athenian tragedy at the service of contemporary concerns about gender and sexuality Central Hall, 13–16 Aug
Eight Ella Hickson's monologues span the diverse experiences of 'Britain as it is today': Parker and Snell Youth Company revive a 2008 Fringe success. theSpace on the Mile, 13–18 Aug
The Lucky Durhams With a multi-media edge, Youth Connection remember the horrors of the Somme, the battleground for some of WWI's most brutal trench-based fighting. theSpace @Venue 45, 14–19 Aug
Manx Fairy Tales and Legends Another Parker and Snell joint, this time bringing classic folk tales back in a story-telling style. theSpace on the Mile, 13–18 Aug
Mercy Me Although millennials are supposed to be ahistorical in outlook, the American High School Theatre Festival looks back to an all-girls' school founded in 1885 to examine ideas of 'social justice, spirituality, community and justice'. Central Hall, 3–8 Aug
My Mate Dave Died Sheffield University Theatre Company invite the ghost of Dave back to haunt his pal. Since only Jimmy can see Dave, hi-jinks are inevitable. Greenside @Infirmary Street
Vox: A Fairy Tale for a New Age This entry in the American High School Theatre Festival has a familiar millennial concern: the quest to find 'your own voice'. Central Hall, 13–17 Aug
Parker and Snell Youth Company
Who is Jack the Giant Killer and the Black Dog of Peel? How did the Buggane of St Trinian's terrorise local villagers? Why was Phynodderee banished from Fairy Land? Discover why the Manx Cat has no tail. Join us as we bring a collection of Manx myths and legends to life as told by the…
Sheffield University Theatre Company
When Dave dies and is sent back to the living, he is only visible to his best friend Jimmy. It soon becomes clear their reunion is more of a curse than a blessing. Together, Jimmy and Dave must discover how to break down the walls between the living and the dead so that Dave can…
Parker and Snell Youth Company
Eight captivating monologues that offer a group portrait of diverse characters from high-class hookers to 7/7 survivors. These monologues paint a revelatory picture of Britain as it is today. Eight opened to rave reviews at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2008. 'Ms Hickson has found her…
Vox: A Fairy Tale for a New Age is a new work inspired by real-life occurrences in the life of Rowlett High School students. Our website has more information about our journey creating the show and the events inspiring its creation.
Mercy Me. In 1885, a special school was created in Louisville, Kentucky, USA. Founded by women, for women, this all-girls school centered itself around four values: social justice, spirituality, community, and service. Today, the young women who walk the hallways of Mercy Academy are hell-bent on carrying on this…
Big Love - Charles Mees adaption of Aeschylus The Suppliants is a modern reexamination of western norms regarding gender and sexuality. Fifty women, arranged to be married, escape their bondage in search of independence. When their fifty grooms pursue them to enforce the wedding contract, conflict ensues raising issues of…
Student Theatre At Glasgow (STAG)
It’s Scotland. It’s sometime in the future. A second independence referendum has been called and very soon your parents will ask you to murder your neighbours. An adaptation of a timeless classic; star-crossed lovers stuck in a war of two families. They lay their love on the line, this…
Mermaids: The University of St Andrews Performing Arts Fund
'A triumphant attempt to turn the 2400 year old classic drama by Euripides into a funny, politically relevant piece of theatre that appeals to, and engages, a modern audience' (St.Art Magazine). When the king of Thebes refuses to recognise Dionysus, the god…
This play, set against the historically accurate backdrop of the first day of the Somme, features fictitious soldiers from the Durham Pals regiment preparing for 'the big push'. Extensive research of the Durham Light Infantry and local events have shaped the script, with reference to actual newspaper…