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The International Festival Young People's Jury

Creative Learning Officer Emma Hay has been working with the International Festival Young People’s Jury throughout the month of August - going with them to shows and guiding them through the reviewing process. Here she tells us a little more about the project and lets us know why it is so important.



Over the three weeks of the International Festival, the Young People’s Jury have attended 19 different performances ranging from the sensational sensory gig by Sigur Ros, through the amazing animated stories of migration in Flit, to the spectacular theatricality of James Thieree’s fantastical world in The Toad Knew. Their intelligent, thoughtful – sometimes whimsical or radical – responses have sparked reams of discussion throughout the project, and these have been debated and distilled in the run up to the announcement of the International Festival Young People’s Awards on Saturday 27th August.

It cannot be easy being thrown in (almost) at the deep end of arguably the world’s greatest performing arts festival. The weight of 69 years of world class art weighs on and intimidates younger audiences – people think they won’t like it or understand some of the work that is presented. There are preconceptions about the International Festival that have been both proven and completely debunked over the last three weeks: the Jury have battled the dynamic of experienced theatregoers and audience conventions, found interests or appreciation for art forms they didn’t know they had and some have even met heroes. Perhaps most importantly, this project has done what any good festival will do: it provides an opportunity for people to hang out with other people, seeing some really cool stuff and get to talk about it after.  It’s about relationships and connections, to yourself, other people and the ideas that underpin the performances.

Some of the awards categories provide amusing and refreshing insights into the International Festival experience: from awarding a dancer for being better than Beyoncé because of his “mind warping moves” in Chotto Desh, to identifying Deep Time as the show that they would send into outer space so that it’s the first thing that aliens see when they want to find out about humanity and monumental for “encompassing themes of humanity’s ignorance and resilience” in The Show That Left a Lasting Impression.  The International Festival Young People’s Awards have brilliantly captured the eclectic 2016 International Festival with a lateral perspective that has shaken up the last 70 years of International Festival history, and will do the same for the next 70…..


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