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Youth Flashing on Stage

Shirlene Green Newball

Photos: Petri Kärkkäinen and NTH

In a warming environment of body exploration movements, speaking out, laughing, and experiencing a bit of frustration; two enthusiastic youth groups one from Kannelmäki named RoyalTea and Rainbow Scarf from Oulunkylä, debuted last Saturday, the 2nd of April, in Maunulatalo. The performances evolved different topics, which emerged from the youth workshops project organized by the New Theatre Helsinki that started in autumn, 2021.

In front of family members, friends, and others present in the audience, the youngsters staged their acting skills without demonstrating nervousness. The youngsters from the Rainbow Scarf group said that it was fun to perform even though they were scared since it was their first time in this kind of performance. However, they considered that it when smoothly. “Playing different characters was not bad, it helps that we had the future teller scene which gave us time to prepare for the other role”, said Kivi.

Their confidentiality and braveness made the show display seem easy. Both groups interacted with the public. For example, Rainbow Scarf asked individuals from the audience to choose a card to read their future. On the other hand, RoyalTea pointed out someone from the public as one of the characters in the performance.

Youngsters from Rainbow Scraf and RoyalTea performing

The youngsters from both groups signed up last autumn to a call made by the New Theatre Helsinki for youth workshops which was made available online and by posting flyers at the youth centre of Helsinki City. Nóri Varga, the coordinator of the project, said, “this project is about opening the art form of theatre up and asking the youth about theatre by expressing that it is something inclusive and diverse. (…) It is important to show that they are part of it, theatre is about their stories and narratives because the future of theatre is them”.

Both performances depicted topics from our daily routine such as bullying, social media role, job interview, discrimination, and so on. After reading articles from the newspapers, brainstorming ideas, revealing their own experiences, and discussing all these issues, The RoralTea group agreed to choose different topics to be dramatized. Malaika expressed that her group’s play was based on three articles that were chosen among them.

The scene of the plays varies from house, office, bus stop, public transportation, the forest, and others. Another important element to mention is that English and Finnish languages were used in the plays. Many of the performers expressed that it felt great to code-switch between languages, and it is exciting that in the future they can include more languages that are part of their linguistic asset.

“I feel great working with them, such a lovely group (…), full of ideas, energy, and enthusiasm; it had been a joy to work with them”, said Yasmin Ahsanullah one of the facilitators of the workshops from the New Theatre Helsinki team.

Performers on stage

Even though the youngsters admitted behind the stage being nervous, on stage they evolved naturally and fluently, which also made the audience bond with them. This was their first performance, but without doubt it will not be their last one since their energy is a key element that will drive them to continue presenting plays with interesting topics, not only for them as youngsters, but also for their family, friends, and society. These youngsters are aware that theatre is a space for all.

To wrap up the afternoon, a rhythm workshop was imparted by the musician Issa Dembele, who has an outstanding career playing griot music from West Africa. He led the group by giving step by step the different rhythms followed by the audience joining him. At the workshop, each participant had the opportunity to learn three basic beats and the lyrics of a song. At the end, it was a unified sound of drums and voices that did not distinguish gender, country, colour, and other categories set by society.

Rhythm workshop

This Saturday was the first performance, but the New Theatre Helsinki is looking forward to polishing these pieces and presenting them later in the year, so keep tuned in on our different platforms for more information.

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