Students from Porthcawl Comprehensive School have trailblazed their way to London to perform in a play directed by Year 12 pupil, Wil Morgans, at the National Theatre later this month.

Treading boards in the National Theatre as Dame Helen Mirren, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sir Ian McKellen and other iconic actors have done, the group has been selected from youth companies from across the UK to perform at the theatre, with their interpretation of Orchestra, a play written by Charlie Josephine.

This accolade comes as part of the National Theatre Connections, an annual, nationwide youth theatre festival championing the talent of young people for the last 29 years.

Each year, ten new plays are commissioned for young people to perform, uniting some of the UK’s most innovative writers with the theatre-makers of tomorrow.  The youth companies choose one of the ten plays to interpret and perform, and following a series of performances, just one group is selected to perform each play at the National Theatre.

Charlie Josephine’s Orchestra, performed by Porthcawl Comprehensive School, is one of the ten plays included in the Connections 2024 programme.  Charlie, an actor and writer passionate about “making art that’s honest, visceral, sweaty”, has a list of acclaimed work; this includes the play, I, Joan, which opened to great praise at Shakespeare’s Globe in summer 2022, as well as other more recent award-winning plays, such as Blush.

Orchestra focuses on a youth orchestra, practising for a concert during the half term holidays – providing the backdrop to explore the intricacies of relationships, class, as well as the potential price of success.

When asked about the play, director, Wil Morgans, said: “Having read the play, I felt immediately connected to the piece.  I knew it would be emotionally challenging, featuring relatable themes of class, the pressures experienced by young people, as well as the stress that can stem from the high standards that we set ourselves.

“For us, coming from a comprehensive school in Wales, the opportunity to stage and perform Orchestra at the National Theatre is a once in a lifetime chance. The whole experience has been an absolute joy that none of us had expected. Connections has given us access to an aspect of theatre and avant-garde writing that we have all fallen in love with.”


Poppy Shears, who plays one of the lead characters agreed, adding: “This opportunity has been so amazing for our school, and being from a small town in Wales, this makes our London stage debut so surreal and exciting!”


Kirsten Adam, Head of Young Peoples’ Programmes at the National Theatre, commented: We are so excited to have Porthcawl Comprehensive School with us for this year’s Connections festival at the end of this month. National Theatre Connections champions the talent of young people across the UK and is a brilliant opportunity for them to develop new skills, as well as express their creativity. We cannot wait to see the imagination and creativity of Porthcawl Comprehensive School brought to the Dorfman Stage.”


Orchestra will be performed on Tuesday, 25 June and Charlie Josephine is very much “looking forward to watching the play and meeting the students afterwards.”

In light of the success of the students, Kelly Poole, Head of Drama at Porthcawl Comprehensive School, said: “Seeing the pupils flourish so greatly in their performance has been an absolute privilege.  Being able to celebrate their success with them performing at the National Theatre will be a once in a lifetime opportunity – something I will never forget.”


Headteacher, Mike Stephens, also commented: “Everyone at Porthcawl Comprehensive School is very proud of the achievements of our students.  The opportunity to direct and perform at the National Theatre is so very well deserved for this talented group of students, they are role models for success in every single way!  Our production is a collaborative production, led and coordinated by our students.  Driven and directed by one of our Year 12 students, Wil Morgans, this performance will be outstanding – I am one very proud headteacher!”


Lindsay Harvey, Corporate Director (Education, Early Years and Young People), said: “What an absolutely amazing, artistic achievement!  Well done to the staff involved, allowing the learners to pursue this opportunity and to the pupils for their drive, hard work and commitment, not to mention creativity, which has led them all the way to London!  We are extremely proud of you all and look forward to seeing you shine on the stage at the National Theatre!”