We hear from Eve, one of our Prologue Ambassadors about what it was like attending CFT's first Youth Conference.
On the 26 November 2022 Chichester Festival Theatre held their first ever Youth Conference: Empowering Youth Voice Through Culture. Organised by the Youth Advisory board and members of the Learning Education and Participation (LEAP) team, young people from all around the country came together to celebrate our collective youth voice.
Three guest speakers took to the stage to showcase the work of their company with a particular focus on one of the three key themes.
Natalie Watson from Fluid Motion Theatre talked to us about their workshops and guidance in schools across the country, in relation to student wellbeing, ‘offering young people the confidence to take charge of their own mental health’.
Phillip J. Morris from Trybe House Theatre in London, explained the work of his company, which seeks to actively build resilience and self-wellbeing, primarily with young black men aged 16- 25, using theatre as a supportive outlet.
Last but not least we heard from the wonderful duo, Ben Buratta and Barry Fitzgerald, on queer-inclusion and their company Outbox Theatre, a theatre company whose work is led by and for those who don't see themselves represented. They discussed creating performances about individual experiences and casting roles in relation to identity 'in a way that’s isn’t about trauma, it was really about joy'.
I found that there was a common theme across all of the talks; The creation of spaces where people can dream and imagine, a space to be their best selves.
An insightful Q&A hosted by Aimée Massey, a diversity inclusion and change consultant, and Grace Thompson, a disability advocate and member of CFYT, took place with the speakers as the panel. Covering subjects such as tokenism, finance, covid lockdowns, the new Doctor Who and so much more.
One key takeaway that really stuck with me was, ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’, not in a materialistic way, but in networking and putting yourself out there - you’ll be surprised how many incredible people are often only ‘one person away’ from you.
The conversation was opened up to audience members who readily asked their burning questions, with someone on ‘zoom chat duty’ for those who joined us for the day online.
After the in-depth discussion with the panel, a well-deserved lunch was served to the guests and staff. A random seating assignment allowed people from all over the country to merge with different staff, volunteers, ages and backgrounds in an incredible space of networking.
In the afternoon, guests attended two workshops of their choosing.
There was an interactive, physical workshop focusing on mental health; full of discussions, drama pieces and of course the positivity party, complete with our own positivity crowns (some may say a tribute to the old Burger King crowns!).
Similarly the queer inclusion and allyship workshop used physical movement and dramatic techniques to convey ideas and subject matter, asking 'what is the definition of queer?'
The Youth Advisory Board (YAB) workshop encouraged networking using a game of bingo (using conversations with other people in the room to cross off boxes) and resulted in a discussion about CFT’s YAB with contributions from other YAB members from around the country.
The other workshop available was an anti-racism session, an open discussion regarding how to unlearn traditionally taught racism. Guests shared personal stories and listened to opinions and views on the wider topic. Complete with a self-healing pack, this discussion was the first page of a much larger book.
All the workshops majorly involved teamwork, working openly with strangers and making new friends.
The feedback session was filled with positivity and excitement, compliments about the different ways of communicating and many insightful comments.
I was grounded by the experiences
To wrap up the incredible day our Youth Advisory Board held a short presentation of who they are and what they have been doing within the theatre. With five meetings a year, meeting with different people working within the theatre, the YAB works to see how they can improve CFT's work with a particular focus on young people. Alongside this members of YAB worked on individual projects such as the rebranding of our very own Prologuescheme, transformed by previous board member Joe Clines. An incredible opportunity for the youth to be part of the change!
We can’t wait to see what the future holds for us and hope you can join us on our journey too!
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