Youngsters’ book written in lockdown hits the stage

A modern-day fantasy adventure written during lockdown is making its stage debut at Arts Centre Washington (ACW) this weekend.

The book, The Trombone Switch, was produced through a collaboration between Washington Youth Theatre, the group’s tutor Neil Armstrong and ACW’s Saturday Art Club during the first lockdown in 2020.

Neil, who has led the project, supported the youth theatre group in developing and writing the story while art tutor Vincent Cooper guided the young artists of the art class in producing beautiful illustrations for the book.

Youth Theatre members would think of a plotline for the book, and Neil would then translate their thoughts and ideas into chapters. Members of the Youth Theatre then read the text to the Saturday Art Class, who decided which storylines they would illustrate.

Some of the cast of The Trombone Switch with Neil Armstrong and group leader Zoe Connel, right.

The story is about Elsie, a young girl who isn’t happy with her home or school life. An “Exchange Teacher” (with a magic trombone) exchanges her with another version of herself into a different dimension where everything is the opposite.

Elsie soon realises her "normal” life wasn’t so bad and needs to find her way back home.

Neil has now adapted The Trombone Switch into a play.

He said: “Because of Covid restrictions in 2020, the Youth Theatre was unable to do our normal thing of devising plays and then performing them. So, I thought it might be a good idea to write a book with the kids instead.

“So we had a series of Zoom meetings not only to write the book, but also to create the illustrations, because the Saturday art class joined forces with us.

“It’s very funny, but there are some serious themes too.”

“We’ve been rehearsing for about six weeks and the young people are excited about performing the play. It will end on a bit of a cliff hanger, which we hope will encourage people to buy the book – in a way it’s a bit of a dramatic book launch.”

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The play is to be performed on the Arts Centre Washington stage on Saturday, July 23 at 2pm. Tickets are available on a pay ‘what you decide’ basis.

Washington Youth Theatre group has two sections, both of which meet at ACW on Saturdays. For more information visit www.artscentrewashington.co.uk.