Gen Z goes live

Jun 12 2021 | By More

Strange Town returns to live with multi-artform production

Leading Scottish youth company, Edinburgh’s Strange Town, is returning to live performance with Generation Z: The Future is Unwritten – a hybrid production featuring over 120 young people.

Funding from Creative Scotland has enabled the production to go ahead using additional filmed and choreographed elements to in-person performance under the necessary social distancing due to Covid. It’s the first time the 13 year-old company has  received any funding from Scotland’s national arts body.

Two in-person elements to the production, both at Out of the Blue on Dalmeny Street, are taking place over the weekend of Thursday 17 to Saturday 19 June 2021. This will include an outdoor projection and an indoor live performance. The following weekend there will be online screenings of the whole work with bonus filmed content.

Strange Town’s Josie O’Brien. Pic: Strange Town

The whole project brings together Strange Town’s eight youth theatre groups, aged 8 to 18, with a newly created emerging playwrights group of 18 to 25 year-olds.

Strange Town’s youth companies are driven by the creation of new productions from each of the groups. They use scripts commissioned by the company, then work interactively with the playwright to create their own shows.

In normal times, the Strange Town Youth Theatres stage five productions every June with three more at Christmas, performed at either the Traverse or the Scottish Storytelling Centre.

These far from normal times have provided new challenges to Strange Town as Steve Small, its co-creative director  and producer of Generation Z: The Future is Unwritten, points out.

“This project has been unlike any other in the over 30 years I have worked in Scottish Theatre,” he says. “The obvious big question has and continues to be: how to make and present live theatre safely during a global pandemic?

a project to focus on

Gen Z is, in many ways, Strange Town’s attempt to grapple with the issue of giving our young people and our team a project to focus on whilst making theatre safely during a global pandemic.”

The project started by asking all eight Strange Town youth groups: ‘Can Young People Change the World?’.

The young members responded to the stimulus by creating work that addressed such a wide range of topics it is hard to comprehend – isolation, technology, identity, generational division and Black Lives Matter to climate change, ideal society/world, protest, kindness, having your voice heard and Covid-19.

The eight groups have held weekly online digital drama workshops and face-to-face creative sessions, where possible, to explore the question and to create, write, film and record material.

Small adds: “An interesting new addition was the setting up of Strange Town’s first young writers’ group – the four members of which were assigned a youth theatre group or groups to work with. The young writers wrote material for the youth theatres and dramaturged work produced by the youth theatre members.”

high-tech element

The final product is not purely theatre: choreography and movement has played a big part in the project. Seventy young people from the company got involved in a professionally choreographed movement piece, reflecting on the main question. This involved Zoom rehearsals and everybody recording their final performance on their mobile phones.

There is also a high-tech element to the production, thanks to Strange Town’s successful bid to Creative Scotland’s Open Project fund, which has allowed the project to be flexible as it developed the project and respond to the ever-changing situation caused by the pandemic.

Specifically, it has enabled Strange Town to employ a full technical team and additional production staff that include film editors, projection mappers, sound designers, a choreographer and production designer.

Small is positive about the result. He says: “The Gen Z project is a testament to the hard work put in by everybody involved in the company.

“Despite the challenges and difficulties of the pandemic, watching the enthusiasm, skill and pride with which the production team has undertaken this task and having seen how the young people have adapted and risen to the challenge, as well as the range and quality of the work they’ve produced, it’s impossible not to feel massively encouraged.

“Despite the dark days of the lockdown restrictions, we hope better days are coming. People will always find a way to be creative.”


Generation Z: The Future is Unwritten

In person at Out of the Blue

Outdoor production:
Thurs 17 – Sat 19 June.
9pm-10.45pm, every 15 minutes.
A snippet of Strange Town youth theatre’s work projected on to the side of a church just beside Out of the Blue.
Limited tickets due to Covid restrictions: Book here

Indoor Performance
Fri 18, Sat 19 June 2021.
5.45pm, 7.15pm and 8.45pm:
A mix of live, filmed, audio and installation- combining work from across our youth theatre groups made this year.
Limited tickets due to Covid restrictions: Book here

Online Screening

Fri 25, Sat 26 June 2021.
Evenings: 7pm. (The film will then be available to watch any time over the next 24 hours.)
A chance to catch an online version of the whole event the following week including some bonus film content.
Unlimited tickets: Book here


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