Anna Lewis

Mess up the Mess Theatre Company

Strangers 2 - International Youth Theatre Development Camp, Hong Kong

The project

Strangers2 is an international script writing and performance project involving collaboration between young people and professional artists from Wales, New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong. Using multi-media and communications technology, young people are connecting on a global scale to explore their cultural landscapes, celebrating diversity through theatre. The project is led by Mess Up The Mess Theatre Company LTD in Wales with delivery partnerships with Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP), Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts and Inspired Productions New Zealand.

Strangers 2 has been in the development stages since the hugely successful completion of Strangers 1 in Feb 2008 which saw young people from Slough, Carmarthenshire and Nelson New Zealand creating original collaborative performance with mentoring from professional artists and communication technology. With support from WAI Mess Up The Mess has been able to participate in an international network of Theatre for Young Audiences practitioners that has led to a second more ambitious phase of the project

The focus of the camp

The 7 day Hong Kong camp included workshops led by 8 international artists (writers, directors, and musicians) and provided opportunities to explore ideas and concepts for Strangers 2. Due to funding, only one representative from New Zealand was able to attend the camp and unfortunately, no representatives from Australia were able to attend. However, contact was made with both countries during the week to ensure that there was a continuous dialogue between all participants in the project.

By the end of the week we had a better understanding of the cultures of all the groups and had a firm understanding of the thematic concept that would inspire the next stage of the project. The focus of the week was to plan a structure for creative development that included the tools of web conferencing and blogging within script development. The main aim of the week was to find a shared language of theatre and performance that transcends English language theatrical traditions. An agreed project timeline with creative milestones was formulated and agreed by the professional artists and youth leaders from all countries. The strong working relationships formed between artists and youth leaders from other cities have since supported the web skyping and blogging that ha subsequently followed.

Objectives of the activity for Mess Up The Mess Theatre Company:

• Launch Strangers International Youth Theatre project involving professional artists and peer leaders from Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and Wales
• Lay the foundations of virtual collaboration through face to face workshops
• Develop shared theatrical conventions and language to communicate through on-line over the next phase of the project
• Create meaningful dialogue and relationships between artists and participants engaged in the programme
• Experiment with non-English language based performance forms
• Improving social outcomes for young people including community cohesion, resiliency, communication skills and raised aspirations.
• Young people, artists and youth workers develop skills and creative approaches relevant to the digital age.
• Improved communications and understanding of relationships between participants.
• Increased knowledge and practical experience of theatre and the process of participating and creating theatre by the participants.
• Improved employability outcomes for participants.
• Artists, youth workers and peer workers are skilled practitioners and have improved employability outcomes.
• Diverse cast brings a diverse audience.

Funded by Wales Arts International, MUTM Theatre Company Limited was able to send Dafydd James, head writer of the project, to Hong Kong Kong. During his time there Dafydd led three workshops. The first, entitled ‘Music and Theatre’, he ran on his own for the Cantonese participants. The second he ran for the whole group in collaboration with Maori artist, Jamie Macaskill, during which they drew upon their collective skills as theatre practitioners and musicians. The third – a writing workshop – he ran in collaboration with Sarah Jones, artistic director of MUTM. Dafydd also participated in a variety of workshops led by other international leaders.

Not only was this a unique opportunity to share and transfer skills between international artists but we developed a common theatrical language that has and will continue to influence the project in its development over the next 18 months.

Back to the funding directory

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