National Festival of Youth Theatre Past and Present: The Deaf & Hearing Ensemble

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:

Jennifer K. Bates, The Deaf & Hearing Ensemble

From the moment I arrived at NFYT in 2011, I knew I was part of something important. Watching the young people learn, laugh and grow (as artists and people) over such a short period of time was incredible. At the same time, I was able to learn, laugh and grow too. Every time I meet with the folks at YTAS I gain something. In 2011 I came along as a youth leader for Solar Bear’s Deaf Youth Theatre. It was my first time seeing youth theatre performances from all over Scotland, my first time networking with other youth leaders and my first time experiencing the toilets at the campsite! I remember coming home and having ‘that’ feeling – ye’ know, that feeling when you know something really great has just happened: something important.

I was also part of Re:Location in 2012. This took me to Norway to work with more brilliant people and this experience fuelled my desire to make cross-cultural work. Other performances I directed with SB’s DYT were performed at NFYT and, most recently, as Artistic Director of The Deaf and Hearing Ensemble, I was invited back to work intensively to create a scratch performance in collaboration with two youth theatres and their leaders.

I love it when the young people question the work. I love it when they push me to back up what I say, and I love it when they go for it again and again, until they are exhausted and then they go for it once more and surprise themselves. I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the young people who are now professionals in their own right and I’m chuffed to say, they are still questioning and surprising the audience, themselves and me.


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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