TeeNEXTers: postcards from France

Last month we provided bursaries for six young people to attend the TeeNEXTers Youth Exchange Project at NEXT Arts Festival in Lille. Three of the participants have reported back on their experience:

Liam Rees

What did yet get out of being involved in TeeNEXTers?
TeeNEXTers definitely made me reconsider how I think – not just about theatre – but in general as I was surrounded by people from different backgrounds and traditions. The shows themselves were not the most important thing, but the conversations and ideas we had afterwards were.

What new things will you take back to your youth theatre?
A fresh set of questions asking what we’re trying to achieve when we make theatre and who the theatre we make is for.

What most inspired you about the experience?
The shows themselves provided plenty of inspiration, though that doesn’t necessarily mean I liked them, but they’ve certainly made me think about other ways of working and I can’t wait to get started on my next project! The most inspiring thing was probably all the conversations we had after the shows – I couldn’t believe how insightful some of the younger critics were – I doubt I was like that at their age! The fact that all of us were going to the same workshops and shows meant that the conversations and ideas got deeper and more complex as the week progressed. This provided plenty of inspiration for future works.

Myfanwy Morgan

What did yet get out of being involved in TeeNEXTers?
I had heard about the TeeNEXTers project from a friend who had shared a Facebook post in 2015, but at the time I was more focussed on acting and performing than critical writing and reviewing. But I had been very wrong about what this exchange can offer a performer. It aims only to teach constructive critical thinking. That can mean writing reviews and becoming a critic, widening artistic perceptions and applying constructive thinking to your own performances, which is perfect for young people as thinking rationally and confidentially about their own work [can be] a rare occurrence.

I took a gap year from university and moved back home to Thurso, meaning there was very little theatre in my life: performing or seeing. The opportunity to see foreign shows, discuss them and take part in workshops to enhance or brush up on my existing critical skills was exactly what I needed!

I’d love to take part in the project again, but I’d probably prefer for another young person to gain the experience and skills I have gained through TeeNEXTers

What new things will you take back to your youth theatre?
I am one of those youngsters that because of my geographical location, I was never part of just one youth theatre company. I was a part of the Thurso High School Drama Club, Eden Court Caithness Young Company and Eden Court Collective – the company I applied to the project under. It can be confusing, but it mainly means I have more places to return to, and if they want to know more about how I became more confident in my critical thinking and writing I can tell them about the experiences alongside Gareth Vile in writing and scenic workshops with Norwegian Vikings Carl Jorn & Bjorn. Also, I can tell them about all the banging tunes you’ll find in other countries!

What most inspired you about the experience?
Getting to meet other young people, to discuss and enjoy theatre. Also, having my first real experience as being one of the older participants was surreal but entirely welcomed. When I first did a project with YTAS (Promote YT at the time) – I was only 15. I was the little cutie with hopes, dreams and no bags under their eyes. I’m still all those – apart from the addition of bags under my eyes – but I now have a different perspective as someone who has grown with projects and experiences like this. A confusing kind of wisdom I suppose. TeeNEXTers cemented confidence in my leadership skills and gave me comfort to know I’ll be fine doing all those workshops I’m going to have to do to pay the bills as a struggling actress. Thank you YTAS, till next time.

Lily Garget

What did yet get out of being involved in TeeNEXTers?
Firstly I would like to stay a HUGE thank you to YTAS for offering me a place on the TeeNEXTERs trip to Lille. As soon as I heard about it I was so excited and sorted my application within the day. I’d never been to France so as well as being an opportunity to learn more about theatre in a different context, it was also an opportunity to travel somewhere I’d never been!

When I found out we were getting the bus most evenings to Belgium to watch shows, I was even more excited! I guess that’s how I felt about the whole trip. Every day there was a workshop for us to be involved in and work with theatre makers from across Europe. I found I learnt so much about myself from being around a totally new group of people, especially as the whole Scottish group had never met, while all the other countries knew someone in their group or their group leader.

What new things will you take back to your youth theatre?
I feel as though I’ve gained so so much from TeeNEXTers; from visiting France to making new friends. One of the most important things from a theatre point of view was seeing shows from different countries. I was really intrigued to see how different their styles were and how they related to Scottish and British theatre. Having seen shows in Dutch, English and Russian – we really did see a whole host of styles!

What most inspired you about the experience?
What inspired me most was actually the other people on the trip. Our open mic night was an absolute blast and seeing all of the talent was so inspiring. I also feel really inspired to learn a second language as we seemed to be the only non-bilingual country on the trip! Through the critiquing workshops I learnt a lot about theatre as a medium and what I look for when I see a show and what I feel a ‘good’ piece should include. This is definitely something I’ll carry through into my own work and the work we do in both youth theatres I am part of.

The bursaries for this project were funded by the European Commission via its Erasmus+ programme. Last week, Keep Erasmus Plus launched, which aims to save this vital European exchange programme. Erasmus+ enables people – especially those who can’t otherwise afford it – to study, work, volunteer, teach and train in other countries. Sign the petition.


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