In November 2015 Youth Theatre Arts Scotland offered four aspiring young theatre-makers from across Scotland the opportunity to travel to France to take part in TeeNEXTers. This annual international youth exchange project uses artistic collaboration to enhance young people’s ability to express their opinions and is designed to help develop new creative and critical skills.
The four Scottish participants, who all represented YTAS member organisations, were (L-R):
Dominic Gallo Collision, Fife
Callum Bell Toonspeak, Glasgow
Rachael Keiller Tron Young Company, Glasgow
Libby Taylor APA Youth Theatre, Aberdeen
Each year the TeeNEXTers project is hosted by Le Grand Bleu, a children’s and young people’s theatre in Lille. Linked to the regional cross-border performing arts festival, ‘NEXT’, the project offers young people from Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium and Spain the chance to discover and respond to innovative and avant-garde performance.
As well as attending four performances at the NEXT festival, the mixed-nationality group of TeeNEXTers also participated in critical workshops led by professional international artists. Using writing, sound video or movement the participants explored their ideas and feelings about the shows and created critiques, reviews or responses to them.
The performances they watched were:
“It was a great experience getting to see work outside of the UK. The work we saw inspired me. It was really refreshing and a great reminder of why I LOVE theatre. Each show was very different, had a strong message and provoked its audience. It was challenging and exciting.
What I’ll take back to the Tron Young Company isn’t knowledge or new information, it is simply courage to be bold and brave with our work. I hope the work I have seen will inspire me to push myself and others further. This brave work is happening elsewhere, so why can’t it happen here?”
– Rachel Keiller, Tron Young Company, Glasgow
Content and styles that I’d never seen before were evident in all the shows and both built my knowledge concerning the role of theatre in society and gave me inspiration, as well as boundaries, for creating more challenging theatre with my drama group.”
– Libby Taylor, APA Youth Theatre, Aberdeen
“This experience has opened my eyes to theatre as a whole. I feel like theatre is this place where everyone can tune into the same time and space to feel the same things and be surrounded by what is going on in an immersive experience. Throughout the week I saw things (live chickens on stage, young girls and a bodybuilder, unique scaffolding) that have shown me as a young theatre-maker that there is so much freedom in the art and you can truly express your opinion even if no one understands it.
Doing different workshops with people from around Europe was insightful as I was introduced to how each country’s style of theatre-making was present. It has also given me a lot of knowledge about what theatre I want to make and show.”
– Dominic Gallo, Collision, Fife
“What most inspired me about my five days in Lille was the debate that dramatist Rodrigo Garcia’s show ‘4’ prompted. There parts of the show involving animal cruelty and a lack of audience consent for participation which I and many others found morally abhorrent. I personally would never wish to replicate such scenes in anything I created or was involved in. Despite that, the show was astoundingly clever and self-aware. No one left the theatre that night without feeling tricked or confused, Garcia played the audience right into his hands. Despite my disagreements with the piece, I was encouraged by how engaged everyone was with their reactions and thoughts afterwards.
Through TeeNEXTers I feel as if I’ve gained valuable insight into a whole new side of European avant-garde theatre practically unseen in Scotland. This will only help in my creative contributions to Toonspeak. Also valuable for this were the workshops. Workshopping is an important part of developing artistic skills and the people taking the workshops are at the top of their game. They managed to fit in such interesting activities and teach us new ways to analyse theatre.”
TeeNEXTers was an astonishingly affecting experience unlike any other I’ve had in my life so far. Even if some of the shows we seen were in languages I couldn’t understand, they were all mesmerising and brand new to me on a visual and thematic level. It made me feel as if European theatre breaches subject matter and levels of experimentation avoided in the UK. The balance between seeing shows, attending workshops and sightseeing was miraculously perfected. It was also great to be able to network and make friends with youth theatre participants of multiple nationalities.”
– Callum Bell, Toonspeak, Glasgow
We look forward to offering YTAS members more opportunities to take part in projects such as TeeNEXTers in the future. Applications for TeeNEXTers 2017 are now open