17 Apr 2020

Youth Activism

Post written by: Erin Walcon

On Friday 28 February, we took a road trip to London. Looking back, now that we’re in the Covid19 lockdown, this was a precious moment of aliveness and community – being physically together right before the world tilted sideways.

It was a bit of a last-minute trip. We’d heard through the Co-Creating Change grapevine that there was an event being planned at Battersea Arts Centre – a symposium for young people interested in art and activism. The timeframes were short – only a week and a half to the event.

Because we’re currently working on our Protest and Rebellion project, we asked the members of DYT if anyone was free on a schoolday and whether any of them fancied a spontaneous trip to London to see some incredible theatre and meet other young people interested in activism. They did.

So we did some quick permission forms and Mair rented a van like a pro and we packed all 7 of us in and drove down the A303 past Stonehenge and the pig-pens.

Some of us slept.

Some of us did work. (Budgets.)

Some of us co-opted the backseat and wouldn’t give it up.

Mair drove the whole way there and back. Major points to her.

At BAC, we were gobsmacked by how beautiful the Great Hall is looking, restored fully after the 2015 fire.

And we were equally gobsmacked by the amazing collection of young people from all across the UK. Most of them were planning on spending the night in the Great Hall on camp-beds, for an epic sleepover. I’m not sure there was much actual sleeping.

The Symposium was brilliant – packed to the brim with good talks and workshops and amazing people. Our good friends from Strike a Light in Gloucester were there too – read their blogpost here. They got to see Greta Thunberg on the same day earlier in Bristol – what an incredible day they had!

The absolute highlight was the evening show When It Breaks, It Burns by coletivA ocupação. This performance absolutely blew our minds – from the innovative set-up of the space, to how they used the audience, to the visceral aliveness of their physical performances, to the ending (taking to the street!) with a communal heartbeat. This Brazilian company were incredible and we were so inspired by their heart and passion.

This is Alex and Hollie and Lucia and James talking to the company after the show – they were so generous and friendly. It felt like an amazing connection and I know that we’ll all remember it for a really long time.

We got home about 2am. Full disclosure: there was a lot of group sing-along in the van on the way back… especially when we were detoured off the A303 due to overnight roadworks and had to go the long way round the backroads at about 1am. That’s when the musicals soundtracks came out. Jade kept her head buried in a pillow for that grim part of the journey. She is not a musicals fan. We drove into Torbay with the Hamilton soundtrack on full blast. It was a late return, and most of us had to work the next day.

But it was worth it.

Now, looking back at this event from inside lockdown, it feels a long way away. At the time, we thought this was going to launch our Protest & Rebellion project and we were busy talking the whole way home in the van about cool ideas we could experiment with for our own live performance. Now, that performance is being developed via Zoom screens and uploaded songs with digital exchange and radio. It’s a very different picture creatively than we thought it was going to be.

So I’m extra grateful for the vibrancy of these photos and the reminder of what it felt like to be together, in a room, breathing as a community with some shared passion and shared purpose. The sweat and the sprinting and the together-breathing of the coletivA ocupação performance feels like it is from a different reality than the one we find ourselves inhabiting now. I miss that other world palpably right now – the literal sense of having arms round each other, or taking to the streets with a collective heartbeat. The togetherness of singing musicals songs at full volume while driving down a rutted back-road, slightly lost, on your way home. But lost together. Knowing that you’re going there together.