We have just finished touring our production of NESTS throughout the country and have been thrilled by the audiences responses to the show.
A strong focus in producing NESTS was to raise awareness of children in Scotland living in poverty. To pose questions about who these young people are, how they have come to be in their situation and what can we do to change it.
NESTS Playwright Xana Marwick and I developed the idea of HATCHLINGS. We wanted to extend the impact of NESTS, to reach and engage audiences in different ways. To each venue we offered sessions focused on drama, creative writing, playwrighting, directing along with the opportunity for post show discussions.
The idea was for the venues to identify who they wanted to engage and the best medium to achieve this. We found that many of the venues offered the HATCHLINGS programme to young people and given the issues involved in the play this made sense. We could help young people explore the ideas involved in NESTS and we were able to further our understanding of how the play resonated with them.
We worked with a number of inspirational theatre makers to deliver these sessions and below is a bit of insight into some of their journeys, thoughts and experiences. Enjoy!
HATCHLINGS Co-ordinator & Facilitator
I am a theatre maker, performer and facilitator based in Glasgow. Most recently I’ve been performing with Sprog Rock (a rock band for under 5’s), working as part of SUPERFAN to create Like Animals (a new show for adults about love and communication in human and animal relationships) I also have co-run KOR! Records, a record label that runs experimental music projects for young people with additional support needs.
Way back in 2014 I was assistant director on a work-in-progress version of NESTS, and I really loved the show.
I’ve really enjoyed sharing the workshop with youth theatre groups, it’s amazing to be able to share a show that I know well and see teenagers first reactions to it. I’ve been using small extracts of the script in workshops, and seeing the creative choices that participants make when they explore the characters is really interesting. The humanity and complexity that they find in each character (including the crow!) is brilliant, and I’ve been impressed with how empathetic the groups I’ve worked with are to the difficult situations the characters find themselves in.
In the workshops we also think about what our needs are, and what our wants are. This always sparks interesting discussions about the wider themes of NESTS – what do we really need to survive, and who is responsible for providing this? I’ve enjoyed discussing if things like family and happiness are needs or wants, and how complicated it is to try and figure out what makes our lives meaningful both to ourselves and to society (and how these can often be at odds with each other).
In Paisley we had a post-show discussion, and I especially enjoyed hearing the thoughts of the young people who had taken part in the workshop after they had seen the show. They spoke about how NESTS made them think about the privilege and opportunities they have that not all young people have access to, the importance of hope, the complexity of the characters, how easy it is for some people to become invisible in society and how people might end up doing bad things but with good intentions.
I’m a Scottish playwright and cellist living in Edinburgh. I have worked with young carers, youngsters with an offending history, looked after and accommodated children and young people with additional support needs. I am currently working on a play about Post Traumatic Stress, the Children’s Panel (for which I am chair) and a feature length film about female shame.
I was interested in exploring the themes with young people, as often they do not have an opportunity to talk seriously about the social issues around them and how we should be empathetic and supportive to each others struggles.
I worked with the St. Andrew's group who had not yet seen the play. I was keen for them to see what preconceptions they had about a play called 'NESTS'... I was keen to encourage the group to think about 'invisible people' - those who either choose to reject societal expectations such as The Father, or those who the media does not see because they are powerless and often get forgotten (like The Boy). I split the group into smaller groups and gave each a newspaper from that day. I then encouraged them to choose one story or topic that made them feel angry and consider who's story we were not being told, and consider the 'invisible' person or group of people here.
It was interesting to discuss with the group what made them angry and to listen to who they felt was invisible and who's stories were not being represented. I enjoyed encouraging the young people to consider media bias and also that perspective can change the whole way a story is told and how those with power often dominate the narrative. While many were familiar with 'fake news' as a concept, few had considered how it might change the news we get and how we form our opinions.
I wear many hats! I am an Actor, Drama Facilitator and Theatre creative based in the North East of Scotland. My two biggest passions are the arts and working with young people so I try to combine both of these where ever possible.
For Hatchlings I was asked to facilitate creative workshops with secondary school pupils in Banff Academy around the themes of the play. The team here consisted of myself, Professional Dancer Lynne Shaw, Secondary Drama Teacher Susan McQuaker and Dance Artist Sara Oakes Dance.
NESTS was to be performed at Banff Academy through support from North East Arts Touring so we wanted to delve into the interesting and difficult themes of the play. The biggest challenge was how to approach the themes of NESTS with the group. We were aware that the young people involved came from varied backgrounds so we had to figure out how to approach the themes with sensitivity but at the same time still staying true to the themes of the play. The young people we worked with chose to focus on what it takes to thrive and survive as a young person in Scotland.
Initially we were aiming to create a small performance inspired by the themes of the show as a 'curtainrasier' or response to the play. We’d found this in the past to be as a successful means to empower young people, aligning their efforts and expression with professional performances and to bring in new audiences to see touring theatre. However, the young people involved weren't at a stage where they were comfortable to perform. Firstly, they were a brand-new group that we hadn't worked with before and we only had a short space of time to create something to show to an audience. We went back to the drawing board to find a way of engaging with them creatively and still have something to show for it.
We decided to create an installation thus removing the pressure of having to perform in front of a live audience, instead - using film and visual art to show our thoughts on the themes. Our end result was a gigantic 3D willow branch egg - inspired by the idea of a baby box - inside was a comfortable and safe place for a baby to sleep- surrounded by all the words that a baby needs to thrive. With this we screened a film of the young people using dance and movement to show the struggles faced without those things in place to survive and thrive.
It was challenging but seeing the whole thing come together in the end and the young peoples’ reaction to their work was really satisfying.