Rise Again: RISE team take part in Festival of European Youth Theatre

Posted on 6 June 2018

Cast and creatives from the Belgrade Young Company’s acclaimed 2017 production RISE are set to take part in a pioneering new event coming to the West Midlands this summer. Running at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre 30 July – 3 August, The Festival of European Youth Theatre will bring together arts professionals with young participants from across the UK and overseas, in a large-scale celebration of what the field has to offer.

Developed for, with and by young people, the festival will encompass a series of exciting shows and talks, offering a unique sharing and learning opportunity for youth leaders and participants alike. As well as taking part in a range of events throughout the week, the Belgrade Youth Theatre will also be reviving their acclaimed production of RISE, which opened in Coventry in March 2017.

Developed by Critical Mass alumnus Liz Mytton and the Belgrade’s Associate Director Justine Themen together with some of the brightest young stars from the Belgrade’s youth theatre groups, RISE explores the hopes and ambitions of young women in the 21st century, as well as the challenges they face.

Frustrated by experiences of everyday sexism, a group of young women hijack a van and head off on a road trip to seek solace from their pop idol, Queen Bey. But things don’t quite work out as planned, and the young women have to look elsewhere to find a way forward in their lives.

Primarily aimed at those directly involved in the industry, the Festival of European Youth Theatre will also include a full-day symposium on Wednesday 1 August that is now open for public bookings. Aimed at developing and encouraging young voices in theatre, the symposium will include a keynote speech from Simon Stephens, along with a series of panels and workshops with representatives from the National Theatre, Birmingham REP, New Theatre Wolsey and Open Theatre to name a few.

Among these will be a workshop on “Craft and Authenticity”, led by Justine Themen together with dramaturg Ola Animashawun and participants Esra Powell and Vanessa Ostick. Using their production of RISE as a template, the group will examine how to shape great work from participant experience, exploring techniques for creative research, the role of a dramaturg in the writing process, and the ethos of ongoing development during rehearsals.

*Vanessa Ostick8 said: “What I am most looking forward to is meeting all the other companies, watching performances, learning and sharing ideas and different theatre styles. I hope to be challenged in a creative way to enrich my understanding of how you can push the boundaries in theatre through young people.”

Last year, a number of young participants were invited to visit the New Theatre Wolsey to help choose which shows should feature in the festival. After experiencing a series of shows as part of the theatre’s Pulse Festival, the group were given the opportunity to offer their feedback and help support creative programming.

“Our visit to the New Theatre Wolsey was such a vibrant, positive and artistic experience,” Vanessa added. “Upon our arrival we were able to watch fantastic and contrasting performances as part of the New Theatre Wolsey’s Pulse Festival. This exhilarating mini festival was inspiring and highly entertaining, and was a nice opportunity to meet the other young ambassadors taking part in the European Youth Theatre Festival.

“The following day we were employed to shortlist other youth theatre companies across the country and decide who would be included in the festival. This was an extraordinary experience as we were allowed to showcase our thoughts and opinions on what we feel young companies today need to reflect and represent.”

Tickets to the Youth Theatre Symposium on Wednesday 1 August are priced at £75 and are available to book via the Birmingham REP website.