Freshers week and youthful excitement

This week marks the beginning of new beginnings for many as they fly their cushty (or not so as the case may be) little nest for the first time and land in the big wide university nest. It’s freshers week up and down the country, where thousands of eighteen year olds experience many new things. Not entirely limited to the various alcoholic concoctions one can make.

I’ve been working selling tickets to these eager young things at Sussex University for every freshers event under the sun. So I know the eagerness for the partying. But something else I’ve done this week is attend the welcome meeting for Sussex University Drama Society (SUDS). I was there to talk about my theatre company Witness Theatre and, I suppose, show what being a part of SUDS can lead to.

Without sounding too corny, or old actually, it was great to be surrounded by such enthusiasm. Even though I’m sure half of it will die out in a few weeks’ time (but let’s hope not). I spoke to so many people eager to find out what sort of work it is that we’ll be doing, wanting to know more about what we meant by ‘physical theatre’ and just generally excited by what Witness Theatre could offer them. What was really fantastic was how many people were excited for us, to be starting a company and going into business so early. It’s something that to me seems natural, like everybody does it. But, although there are so many young companies out there, I suppose there are just as many who haven’t gone ahead and made their idea a reality.

Not that we’re completely off the ground yet – we’re yet to do our first workshop, our first performance, our first fringe festival, our first funding application etc. But, at least we’re trying.

Being around such fresh-faced enthusiasm, I couldn’t help thinking that it’s just such enthusiasm that the arts need to harness and to generate. The continued existence of theatre as a provocative, inspiring and relevant medium really does depend on this. Imagine if the hour-long queues were for theatre events and not drunken debauchery…

This past week I’ve also written an article on FFourth Monkey Theatre Company, published on A Younger Theatre.

It’s an article that aims to reflect the revolutionary and invigorating vibe I got from interviewing Steve Green, Artistic Director. This is a theatre company that is totally going with the enthusiasm and energy of youth, and I only hope that the work it does can encourage new young audiences to enter the theatre space.

It’s refreshing to speak to someone running a successful company who completely seems to understand what theatre needs now, in my opinion anyway. Things can all get a bit sad when you’re sat by yourself worrying about the state of theatre today. Certainly nothing can be done to aid the situation this way.

Theatre is all about collaboration, even speaking to others who share your views; inspire new thoughts and ideas or find your thoughts and ideas inspiring and exciting is all part of this collaborative process. Writing the Fourth Monkey article and attending the freshers event has made me realise, even more, that we need the fuel of youthful energy to power this collaboration in the future.

Now I’m excited to run the first Witness Theatre workshop in a week’s time, an event we are running specifically with and for SUDS. A few days after we’ll move out into a venue in Brighton to run another workshop open to all. I only hope we can generate, and maintain, the enthusiasm and passion that we need.


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