National Festival of Youth Theatre Past and Present: Kildare Youth Theatre

Groups that have been to the National Festival of Youth Theatre tell us that it “was a genuine game-changer for our young people. It has set their creative ambition alight.”

This year (1-4 July 2016) we’re looking forward to welcoming youth theatres from Aberdeen, Argyll, the Highlands, South Lanarkshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Glasgow, East Lothian and South Wales to the festival.

We’ve asked NFYT alumni and groups booked for this year to tell us more about themselves:

Debbie O’ Rourke, Kildare Youth Theatre, Ireland

Kildare Youth Theatre creates adventures with young people. We take risks and lay down challenges. We seek to rise above our [play]stations in every way possible. [The theatre] has equal numbers of boys and girls. It has no religion. It is open to all regardless of ability. It runs all year round. It is for the deeply shy and for the proudly extrovert, the odd, the gorgeous, the brave and the weird.

At Kildare Youth Theatre, young people can take part in International Exchanges and Festivals, Audition Preparation, Open Mic Nights, National Theatre Connections UK project, Site-Specific project, Classical Play project, Young Leaders’ Programme as well as weekly workshops and classes for young people (aged 11 to 25).

2014 was my first time at NFYT but the young people I went with had been there before. They were a great source of wisdom! The entire team at NFYT are all so welcoming and helpful, so getting used to the place is very easy. The team will help with any information you might ever need and provide plenty of smiles and laughs.

Working at the festival gave me an opportunity to meet and work with almost every young person who attended. The workshop was really active and there was a lot of space for conversation and new ideas. I got to hear many perspectives from very different groups of young people and see them work together on a new form of making theatre. This made the whole experience of attending the festival more dynamic.

As well as having a lot of fun, I hope young people got to learn new skills in theatre making using forum theatre, but also we used the space to think and learn about prejudice, discrimination and ways to act against inequality in society. If I were to sum up the workshops I would with a quote I heard over and over again “I never looked at it that way before”

I love camping, but it was a challenge to be with so many people! There is a great atmosphere and buzz in the campsite, with young people meeting sometimes for the first time, and a real opportunity to hang out together including a campfire and the usual songs and music! The most challenging part was choosing to go asleep early enough to bank some energy for the following day!

Some of our coming highlights are this year’s National Theatre Connections play Citizenship by Mark Ravenhill, which will be performed in Belfast in April. A group of young people are also currently working with a researcher on a project devising a theatre performance and film which shows what it’s like to be kicked-out or pushed-out of school. We have an international exchange coming up in the summer so its all hands on deck at the moment preparing for that!

If your group would enjoy the festival atmosphere at NFYT take a look at the event programme. The closing date for group bookings is 4 May 2016.


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