Generation Z: The Future is Unwritten

June 21, 2021 | By | Reply More

★★★☆☆   Hybrid drive

Out of the Blue: Thurs 17 – Sat 19 June 2021
Review by Thom Dibdin

Life changes – and the more it changes the more it stays the same. This conundrum – truism – lies at the heart of Generation Z: The Future is Unwritten the Strange Town youth theatres’ imaginative and compelling lockdown project which has a hybrid live performance at Out Of The Blue this weekend.

Strange Town provided its eight youth companies with the provocation of: Can Young People Change The World? – and their 110 young performers have kept the companies alive through lockdown by creating a Covid- secure production from it.

Live performance in Gen Z- The Future is Unwritten. Pic Andy Catlin

Which, in these times, means that the many performers each contribute a snippet to a hybrid production. A few get to perform a live, in a socially distanced section. But, thanks to a Creative Scotland grant, the majority is either on audio or video.

Given that a total of eight different groups are involved, supported by several different writers and choreographers as they address such a vast topic – and all prepared over Zoom – it is unsurprisingly tricky to get a handle on the whole piece.

The one separate element is a dance piece. Created as solos and recorded on phones, but edited together to form a mosaic of dance, the result is projected on the side of the church next to Out of the Blue.

amuse-bouche

It feels like a pause before the main event, an amuse-bouche of a preview. In the not quite uniformity of the mosaic, it shows that “young people” can appear to be a homogenous unit, but the term is really as much about individuals as it is about unity.

The live element, it turns out, is key. Covid regulations mean that the company of six perform in a row, speaking into microphones, with all the interaction in the dialogue. And yet Shelley Middler’s central piece, A Letter to Adults, could easily have been written at any point in the last half a century.

The honeycomb arrangement of the socially distanced audience for Gen Z- The Future is Unwritten. Pic: Andy Catlin

There may be differences between the eras as to which issues are recognised and can be named but the ferocious hectoring, delivered with true passion, is as it ever was. So too, are the orange and blue bucket seats. While the honeycomb of socially-distanced seating is unfortunately reminiscent of being in detention.

There’s light-hearted banter, however, rather than endless sums. And a song, Change The World, sung with real grace by Orla Bayne with support from her brother Niall.

Yet the overall feeling, reinforced in both the video and the audio sections, is that young people have to address their own concerns before they start on the world or, conversely, that it is only by changing themselves can they change the world.

snippets

The snippets of dialogue address such issues as where love, lust and affection begin and end; or where banter and bullying intersect. They lend credence to the idea that each generation has to change itself.

Such concerns are underlined, if you missed them, in one of the longer pieces for video – Instant Hit, performed by Lucy West and written by Shelley Middler.

The filmed section was screened against the side of the church next door to Out Of The Blue

With impeccable dead-pan delivery, West wonders out loud what was wrong with her cornering the market in such basics as hand sanitiser or toilet paper during the pandemic, and selling them on at a handsome profit. Sanitiser and paper that she stole from public places.

Just because you are young, doesn’t mean that you have impeccable morals. Nor does it make your idea of what an ideal world looks like preferable to that which exists.

Maybe that’s where we went wrong back in the day – we thought that we had to change the way the grownups did things, rather than to find a way to stop ourselves turning into carbon copies of them.

And Generation Zee, as they cry themselves, remind us that the changing of attitudes to racism, sexism, homophobia and environmental destruction which goes along with the changing of the world is not just down to them, but to us all.

The world might different, but it still needs changing. And yes, it is up to us all to write its future.

Running time: one hour (+ 8mins for film section).
Out of the Blue, 36 Dalmeny St, Edinburgh EH6 8RG
Thurs 17 – Sat 19 June 2021
Live run ended.
Online screening
Sat 26/Sun 27 June 2021.
An opportunity to pay to view a film of the live event together with a variety of additional video, audio and written material developed by the groups.

Details and tickets: Book here

ENDS

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