LAURA Lethlean’s poem-play “Fading” explores the challenges of growing up, and how society’s expectations of children strangle their authenticity.
The play is perfect for Canberra Youth Theatre’s company ensemble, because the many vignettes allows director Katie Cawthorne to give the student performers varied physical actions, from dancing in a nightclub to “going on a bear hunt”.
In one sequence, children in a classroom are told they will be drawing lines today, and the actors embrace the individual lines they want to draw with childish enthusiasm.
But as the children get older society begins to measure the lines they are drawing through life, and the children struggle with the pressure placed on their every choice.
In one standout moment, an adolescent who has set themselves the arduous task of hunting a bear finds themselves face-to-face with their dream, but flees rather than seizing the chance.
In asking how people grow up “well”, the script tackles material relevant to the young actors, who demonstrate strong awareness of how the individual contributes to an ensemble effect, and the capacity of clear physical actions to create and express emotion.
Lethlean’s play, however, is thin material, and the vignettes feel scattershot rather than painterly. More than a play, the written script felt like scaffolding for the performers to explore their craft.
Fading is a showcase for the talent being developed by Canberra Youth Theatre, and communicates how growing up can temper passion and sincerity.