Take a bow, young people! - Theatre project & Generators’ Graduation

SCRIPT - Excerpts

Megan, Assia, Ranya, Laura: Seeking stillness
In a moving city

All: Intrigued by the once untouched
Now tamed by our ancestors heavy hands

All: Crosses in the midst of our urban jungle

Jennifer: We remember our roots and plant them

Laura: We plant them not only in the soil, but in little trinkets, each other’s hearts and precious places

Esther: Love is heavier than brick, and warmer than social media.

 

It’s January 2017. Almost February. It may seem rather unusual to wish the year ahead will reflect the one that has just gone by. But when I read our young people’s script in response to the Donmar’s all-female staging of Shakespeare's The Tempest at King’s Cross, and I remember the sound of their voices projected across the theatre hall, I want to go back in time. I want to re-experience those moments, feeling that hundreds of years of tradition and literature can still be alive and filling up our souls with sense, with reason and purpose.
 
The Donmar Warehouse approached us last year with This Island’s Mine, their educational project for young people from eight different projects and schools, who were given the chance as individual groups to react to Phyllida Lloyd’s play by creating a script through a series of sessions and then putting up a performance at the Donmar’s temporary presence in King’s Cross. We were excited by the prospect, and brought together some of our former programme participants to take up this unique opportunity.

The Skip Garden is not only ‘the garden of a thousand hands’, but also ‘the garden of a thousand minds’. And since the group’s first meeting in early November, Shakespeare’s voice became very audible in many things that live in our skips and all around them. Especially in the Generators’ hearts. I never really paid attention to that. Shakespeare is young and contemporary.

The project was led by Nicole Charles, an incredible facilitator who helped the young people to see Shakespeare in the garden and see themselves and their nature in The Tempest. Assistant Director for The Goat at Theatre Royal Haymarket and Education Practitioner at Shakespeare's Globe, Nicole held the group together as if she knew them for years and it did not matter if the young people had no previous experience in acting. She dedicated the first two sessions to getting to know the girls, to hear their childhood memories, their rituals, their relationship with nature.

And then, like magic, a theatre piece was ready.

On the 2nd of December, Assia, Esther, Grace, Jennifer, Laura, Linda, Lorissa, Megan and Ranya performed brilliantly, despite their palpable fears while waiting to be on stage. I was nervous too. Some of the lines were difficult to remember during rehearsals. But when the music started - a sound representing cells moving and communicating - one poetic and fluent organism moved on the stage with no hesitation. I felt like a cell too, moving in a quiet liquid, very present, just there and super alive.

Global Generation’s work came to life in another new way. Literature and history, rebellion and empathy, tempest and tranquillity, Nature and city, doubts and values.

We were also inspired by all the other young people's performances, including our neighbours at Copenhagen Youth Project and Somers Town Community Association. Guests on the night shared their reactions as follow: "fascinating takes on The Tempest" - "powerful, political, moving performances" - "such creativity" - "amazing evening... performances of power, magic and truth" - "a night of excellent young people's theatrical talent #smashedit" - "such a joy tonight seeing all the response pieces". We could not agree with them all more.

Soon after that dazzling evening, there was also another stage set, this time one a little more familiar, ready for more young people. On the evening of the 15th of December, three cohorts of Generators came to the Skip Garden to get their certificates for completing the Generator leadership programme with commitment, enthusiasm and bravery. I sometimes wondered, as an educator, what's the right way of stimulating curiosity, organising something fun but constructive, exploring the past but looking to the future, starting from their interests but also provoking new journeys.

And when I see them holding their certificates, I hope everything was right; I hope the Skip Garden will not only be a place they entered, but a sort of home, a place to come back to. And after the applause, I hope there is precious luggage to take with them, luggage full of visible and invisible goods, experiences, skills and values useful for their lives.

Take a bow young people, youth leaders for the community and poets for the future! And the journey must go on. Dig a little deeper. Continue to change, to be brave, to explore. Remember when you were stomping on the Donmar Warehouse stage with the rhythm of the drums or when you opened the hive frames with your hands and found honey underneath thousands of bees.

What was that feeling? Hold onto it, contemplate it and listen to it. It has always been there.


All: We are the Baton Carriers

Jennifer: If only we’d lift up our eyes like flowers, to the sun

Megan: Deeply rooted in being, roots expanding as they grow

Assia: If only

Laura: We lifted our eyes to our inner sun

Ranya: Like the plant and its deeply rooted being

Grace: Stick to their being and letting everyone know

Linda: But people forget. How deeply rooted in being, rooted to their being and being

Laura: Are we not warmed and cooled by the same summer and winter?

Esther: There is new life in the soil for every man.

All: If only. We just might have to dig a little deeper.