Two of Tim Crouch’s plays I, Peaseblossom and I, Caliban arrive at the Sherman Theatre next month, introducing new and young audiences to the worlds of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest.
The playwright might be fifty this year but there is something surprisingly childlike about his passionate enthusiasm for Youth Theatre. “I still have a little ten year old Tim Crouch in me somewhere. I’m not a different person- he’s still there.” Presented by Company of Angels I, Peaseblossom and I, Caliban tell the story of the famous fairy and a monster from classic Shakespeare mythology.
“I always felt acutely for poor old Caliban.” Tim says. “He’s an outsider; he’s excluded. That would be the same with Peaseblossom.” Tim explains that characters were chosen for their potential to attract sympathy from young audiences. “I like the marginalised. I think that in the great narrative of those plays there are these two essential characters. I can see a real connection between them and a younger audience. “I wanted both characters a chance to have their say.”
While aimed at children, Tim hopes his original take on Shakespeare will also make adults feel a little younger at heart. “I want to connect audiences with their inner 10 year old. Peaseblossom and Caliban definitely do that.” Though Tim has rapidly established himself as one of the champions of youth theatre, it wasn’t so long ago that he was an associate at the education department for the National Theatre, in which he introduced school children to classic theatre.
Originally from Bognor Regis, Tim originally intended to star in plays, not to write and direct them. Tim described his first taste of big theatre when at 29 he first attended drama school in London. “I thought I ought to go to London and get some of it rubbed off on me. I wanted to become a proper actor but I soon discovered there is no such thing.”
But when he turned to writing, his teaching experience came in handy. He found it easier to write for and understand young audiences. “ Inviting young people to feel like they have an ownership on those difficult classical texts is very important to me.” But youth theatre is under threat, both in Cardiff and across Wales as cash-strapped councils are forced to severely cut arts funding in order balance their budgets. Last October Cardiff Council announced that the Sherman could lose the entirety of its £161,001 grant next year.
But Tim is confident that there will always be a need for youth theatre provision. “Youth theatre is an art form that needs to be fought for. I don’t think its an art form that will die. It’s a mission to get people in but once you get people there it’s a huge thrill and it isn’t one you’d get in front of an Xbox 360.” I, Caliban and I, Peaseblossom will be showing at the Sherman Theatre from March 4-7.