"Festivals are times to celebrate, to come together and share. Festivals like TakeOff are important now and will be become even more important"
As I sit down to write this, I think of the words of Antonio Gramsci ‘The old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born: now is the time of monsters’. Just when we think things can’t get weirder someone, somewhere ups the game, but even amongst this craziness, I’m tempted to fall back on old beliefs, optimistic at heart.
And if we are struggling, with what little optimism we have left, to a new world, and monsters are afoot, then it seems to me a good time to be talking to those people who will make a new world, telling them stories as we go. And those stories must include monsters.
Stories for children matter, theatre matters, human beings performing and showing their humanity with all its failings matter. This is the echo chamber. You all know that. But it’s never mattered as much as it does now.
And being part of the world matters, understanding people from far away places who don’t look like us and sound like us, and understanding the common ground that makes us all essentially the same matters, for now and for the future.
When I started work with Theatre Hullabaloo on the programme for TakeOff Festival, it was in the context of the 2016 vote and their brief came with a determination to feature more work from our European neighbours, an artistic celebration of the cross-fertilisation and beauty that comes from collaboration and sharing. As it started to take shape I was worried that it was maybe a bit ‘too European’ and didn’t have enough work from the islands. Now I’m happy that a lot of work comes across borders, across seas. Different voices, different ideas, different approaches to inspire and agitate.
I am always drawn to work that digs away at my emotions and senses, and I think the programme is full of great examples: Fly from Denmark is funny and dark and beautifully told, Tiger Tale is an exhilarating assault on all the senses, There is a Noise a story of refugees and belonging that took my breath away even as I enjoyed eating the waffles they had made. My Friend Selma is like Is this a Dagger?, that simple and beautiful thing of a person alone on stage telling a tale and cutting to our heart. And Vu is, seriously, a man making a cup of tea. And that’s not all of it, there’s more and what brings it all together is that wonderful thing when human beings stand up and say ‘I’d like to tell you a story’ and at the end we all, in large or tiny ways, are moved and changed by it.
Festivals are times to celebrate, to come together and share. Festivals like TakeOff are important now and will become even more important. TakeOff is a place to come together, as people without borders, to talk about the work we make, the stories we tell and how we face the future as a community and a society. It’s a time and place for celebration, rebellion and optimism when the monsters are roaring, showing them that we and our children can roar louder.