Youth of Today: Chrysalis Theatre Festival preview

Chrysalis festival returns with another programme championing youth theatre in Scotland

Preview by Amy Taylor | 06 Nov 2017

“We felt there was a gap in high-profile performance platforms which championed and promoted creative work by young emerging artists, and so the Chrysalis festival was brought to life,” explains Kenny McGlashan, the CEO of Youth Theatre Arts Scotland, founders of the aforementioned festival, which is set to return to the Traverse Theatre this month for the third year running.

The festival, which acts as a platform for ambitious performance by young theatre makers, features seven theatre groups from across the UK, each of whom will present new work written by the companies themselves. Chrysalis will be staged over three days, from Friday 17 until Sunday 19 November.

Launched in 2015 by Youth Theatre Arts Scotland in partnership with the Traverse Theatre, the festival aims to positively enhance the perception of creative work by young people within the theatre industry. After extending the run from two to three days last year, this year’s programme is overflowing with young talent, and features Manchester’s Contact Young Company, Firefly Arts from West Lothian, Reading Rep and the Beacon Young Company from Inverclyde among others, who all tackle relevant and vital themes in their work.

“This year’s Chrysalis festival is filled with work created by young theatre-makers responding to their relationship to world events and their wider social context. There’s a strong political message in a lot of the work being presented, reflecting young people’s concerns about the world around them, both on a local and global level,” continues McGlashan.

“We have programmed Contact Young Company from Manchester, following their acclaimed production Under the Covers which was part of Chrysalis 2015. Their new production There is a Light: Brightlight which explores cancer care for young people, has been touring England to rave reviews. We also have brand new work from Reading Rep, a new company led entirely by young people, as well as Scottish groups Firefly Arts and the Beacon Young Company, and our established ‘Emergence’ works-in-progress programme.”

The Emergence strand of the festival allows companies to showcase three new 20-minute experimental works-in-progress. The key to Emergence is the audience, as it gives them the chance to give feedback to the companies that will impact the future development of the work. This year, the three companies taking part are Lyceum Youth Theatre, Citizens Young Company and Performance Collective Stranraer, and McGlashan is keen to see how the works are received, following the success of earlier works.

“The project offers three companies the opportunity to showcase a new piece of work they are currently developing for performance. They receive mentorship throughout the process and audience feedback to develop their work to the next stage […] Last year How to Save the World..ish by the Beacon Young Company was presented as part of ‘Emergence’ and is now returning as a main stage show in 2017.”

The purpose of Chrysalis, explains McGlashan, is to let audiences see work by young people in a different, and more critical light, and to cast aside some prejudices towards that work that some people may have.

“We’re too often led to expect that theatre made by young people will be of a lower quality, or irrelevant to an adult audience – but this isn’t the case at all. The young companies selected to perform at Chrysalis are tackling really important subjects in new and dynamic ways.”

Tickets and festival ticket packages are available via the Traverse Theatre Box Office, or 0131 228 1404.
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