ASPIRING actors are in the spotlight ahead of the start of a major four-day celebration of drama in Inverclyde.

Pupils from St Stephen’s and Port Glasgow High schools are among those busy rehearsing for the Scottish Community Drama Association (SCDA) One Act Festival at the Beacon from February 21-24.

The event will feature a mix of adult and junior talent from across the district vying for the chance to represent Inverclyde in the next round of the contest.

This year’s youth section has been expanded and students from both Port secondary schools were keen to get involved.

St Stephen’s teacher Gordon Blair, who is also on the local SCDA committee, said: “It’s our school’s first time entering the festival.

“It’s a new experience for many of them and a few turned up at first saying ‘I’m not speaking out, I’m not doing this and I’m not doing that’.

“Now we can’t stop them.

“It’s been great for their confidence.”

St Stephen’s pupils are working on a piece called ‘Spacenapped’, about a girl abducted by aliens, while Port High have two groups working on separate performances.

The first is ‘Blackout’, exploring mental health issues among young people, and a cast of around 17 star in thriller ‘A Memory of Lizzie’.

Port High S4 student Abby Brown, 15, who is starring in ‘Blackout’, said: “It’s challenging because we have to work closely together and with our piece there are no set characters, so it’s all about learning your lines.”

Leah Heffernan, 12, is in the school’s second production.

She said: “I’ve not really done anything like this before but because it’s my first year in high school I’m testing myself and having a go at everything to see what I like.”

Aspiring actor Pamela Mathieson, 12, from St Stephen’s, added: “Learning lines can be challenging but pulling it together and working with everybody is good fun.”

The festival features seven youth and five adult plays, each lasting between 25 and 45 minutes.

Gourock playwright David Carswell is vice-chairman of the Inverclyde SCDA committee.

He said: “Some of the cast have been in local productions like Mon Eh Ton!, Rock of Ages, the Greenock Players’ panto and loads of other shows people have been to, loved and enjoyed in the last six months.

“The plays will be judged by an adjudicator and the two from each category that score the highest will go through to the next round to represent Inverclyde.”

The festival starts at 7pm each night and tickets, priced £12 for adults and £5 for under-18s, are available from or by calling 723723.