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Why we need the Next Generation!

Next Generation is a programme pioneered by ASSITEJ (The International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People) which brings young and emerging artists from different walks of life together to take part in an exchange of ideas, stories, practices, and most importantly, inspiration. These artists meet, eat, sleep, cry, laugh, joke, drink, play, live, and spend a week together; watching performances and engaging in formal and informal critical discussions about how they receive and make theatre. It is an inspiring week of total immersion into a new exciting world where they can interact with the ASSITEJ global community. The programme is also part of an international festival that showcases theatre productions from different corners of the world, and the participants receive an opportunity to experience the rich, diverse, high quality and cutting edge theatrical delights of TYA (Theatre for Young Audiences). If you ever thought TYA was a myth, unprofessional and low quality or not cutting edge, just a day of such a nuanced, stimulating and thrilling experience would gratify the soul and leave you hungry for more!

ASSITEJ is a great community of organisations, theatre companies, and above all, people who share a deep and profound passion for theatre for the young. It is a network that brings these stakeholders and the Next Generation together – to share their experiences and expertise. It is a platform that provides space for a critical dialogue about ideas that should shape the world of the young, and the future. That is why Next Generation plays a pivotal role in the ASSITEJ community. We cannot shape the future without opening a strategic negotiation between the young and the old, the audience and the artist, the parent and the child, the sponsor/funder and the promoter, etc. It is only by fostering these lines and bringing them into a dialogue can we build a community that is strong and connected with capacity to move together as a movement, consciousness and wave across cultures, seas, borders, politics, practices, experiments, and especially, thinking. We can only grow and go further when we move together as one community. Like the African proverb goes; if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. By enabling young and emerging artists to connect, ASSITEJ is unifying new voices to see, hear and inspire each other, so that they can find synergies and form new collaborations to grow the ASSITEJ family.

ASSITEJ has done well to connect our little pockets into a global community. Individually, we, as the Next Generation, are what ASSITEJ President, Yvette Hardie, calls “ripples”. Of course, ripples, alone, can’t move the sea, because they are mere droplets. As such, if we ripple alone in our own worlds we are hardly ever going to affect the tide, and despite all our efforts, the sea will remain calm. But we must not forget that for the sea to move it needs the initial ripple to set the wave off – and every great wave is made up of tiny little droplets – alone, these droplets can only ripple, but together they form a Mighty wave, a wave big enough to move the sea. And this is the critical role of ASSITEJ international; to connect all the tiny droplets and mould them into waves. This is why Next Generation needs to be, and continues to grow as, one of the programmes at the core of ASSITEJ and its congress meetings.

The 18th ASSITEJ Congress and Next Generation Warsaw (as part of the Korczak Festival), and all the previous programmes, have played a crucial and central role in bringing these ripples together. The ripples connect with each other and the ASSITEJ international community to form a wave; I have had the great privilege to attend the Next Generation programme in Poland and for a week, Warsaw was under siege, hit by wave-storms, the seismic kinds that moved and shook the city and provided a platform to bond the entire ASSITEJ-related TYA industry. Given its support by all ASSITEJ member states and its strategic position that coincides with an international TYA festival that brings local and international artists, productions, audiences, theatres, organisations and business, the Next Generation programme has become an interface that allows emerging artists to engage with all the stakeholders and ASSITEJ’s global artistic community and movement. This programme does more than just to connect the ripples, but it also builds water tight bridges across the sea. It is this bridge that connects ASSITEJ’s global community.

Meet the Next Generation Warsaw participants:

ASSITEJ Next Generation Warsaw 2014 from Thom Browning on Vimeo.

When you look at me you may only see a small, tiny droplet that you probably cannot see with a naked eye, and that’s ok. It’s enough for me, because I know that I’m part of something bigger, something stronger, something united – ASSITEJ and the Next Generation – my home. And at home you shall not miss me – even with your naked eye – because with my family besides me, I have the strength and size of a tsunami. I’m part of a giant wave that can tumble anything in its way, a wave that move mountains and seas, and beyond that, I’m part of a wave that can inspire a child, ignite his curiosity, tease her imagination, and broaden a child’s world to new possibilities. This is me. This is who I am. This is what I am. This is what I can do. This is the Next Generation. I am the Next Generation! Are you? Join us now! Click here: ASSITEJ.

Alongside the Next Generation programme, ASSITEJ promotes the NEXT GENERATION PLACEMENTS. The placements provide emerging theatre artists, producers and administrators with opportunities for international mobility within the field of Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) and in order to encourage contact and exchange between experienced and emerging artists. This is an opportunity to further explore, share experiences, learn and work with artists in other countries within the framework of different projects such as festivals, seminars, workshops, forums, productions, etc.

Having had the privilege to experience the Next Generation programme (Warsaw) and Placement (Arad Goch, Wales), I found that the programmes work very well together to support emerging artists because it gives us a chance to explore and connect with ASSITEJ’s global community and the TYA world; broaden our network and experience something new. This is one of those moments when the droplets connect and pave way for magical things to happen. And it was this experience (especially the theme of Arad Goch’s festival, AGOR DRYSAU-OPENING DOORS) that has inspired me to ‘open’ my own door to give other emerging artists an opportunity to collaborate with South Africa and its local talents. As a result, I will be hosting a cross-cultural collaboration with Christopher Harris, a Welsh actor/writer/director. Together we are going to create a new piece of theatre for the young, possibly aimed at a teenage audience. Additionally, to connect this project to more ripples, we have also opened the collaboration to other international artists. Please see a brief description of the project below:

Eliot Moleba (South Africa) and Christopher Harris (Wales) met at Arad Goch and decided to co-create a production for young audiences together. ASSITEJ SA is supporting the development of this project and will oversee the creative process, since Eliot is also a member of ASSITEJ SA and a participant in our Inspiring a Generation programme. ASSITEJ SA is assisting Eliot and Chris (both writer/actor/directors) to develop this production with input from other professionals. The play will be a two-hander, featuring Chris and a South African actor, to be cast. We are looking for a dramaturg and a designer from the Next Generation programme to be part of this creation process in South Africa. The opportunity will include an 8 week process of creation and performances in Johannesburg, Cape Town and at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown 2015. The international company will be housed in Johannesburg for the duration of the creation period.

For more info, please visit:
SA/Welsh collaboration

SO WHY DO WE NEED THE NEXT GENERATION?
To cultivate an emerging generation of artists who are committed to advance the thinking, research and practice of theatre for young audiences. To give young people opportunities to meet, learn and inspire each other – across borders and cultures – to connect the ripples and promote national, continental and international collaborations in order to ensure that young artists share, build and grow together as a collective; fostering a global network and community. Above all, to support young artists who not only recognise and advocate theatre as one of the necessary activity for every child’s development, but is also actively involved in creating cutting edge work that provides access to theatre for the young. ASSITEJ is playing its part. Are you?

There has truly never been a more perfect timing to join the ASSITEJ family. To know more about how you can be a part of this exciting journey, visit ASSITEJ.

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