25 March 2018
Kate Wyver calls on us to to use our words bravely
I’m telling someone new about NSDF. They’re impressed. But. With the description of the “S” in the festival's acronym, there is the suggestion (as there always is when talking with an older adult about a student project) that they have landed on the confirmation of amateurism they were looking for. It's told through the collapse of a brow or the tilt of a head, or that "ah" sound that escapes an open mouth. The idea that the word “student” somehow makes something lesser. Less intelligent, less admirable, less professional, less impressive. Not anymore.
If the past few months of global turmoil and political division have taught us anything, it is that the voices of the young should be both feared and revered.
We are the ones who have stood up time and again to fight for change. It was teenagers who were mobilised in the Scottish referendum when they were given the chance to vote. It was students who made multi-million dollar companies break deals with the NRA. It was graduates who made a nationwide Snapchat campaign to help root out sexual violence on UK campuses. It is young people who, despite having less money than their parents, are repeatedly shown to give more to charity. It is this demographic who are pushing for progress when the generations above us refuse to.
Young people are the catalyst for change. Our words matter.
This hunger for change, seen through op-eds, protests, walkouts and op-eds, is echoed in the 16 largely political shows of this week’s festival. Many of them new writing, they are tinged with an air of destruction. They examine corrosive relationships, nuclear disaster, lifetime confinement and alien takeovers. They explore the most intimate and ruinous parts of human nature, from our past, present and possible future.
And yet, while it is both a privilege and a joy to be at NSDF, we must be aware of the water we’re swimming in. We are having a diversity panel at a university whose students are currently undergoing viral charges of racism. We are talking about quotas in a room that is largely a sea of white faces. We are seeing four shows from one university when there are more than 60 universities with drama departments that didn't even enter. Benjamin Monk details this on our cover and on page 3. Florence Bell and Joanna Trainor continue this investigation on pages 4-5 as they question the cost of the festival and differing levels of university support. What this week provides us with is good, but it’s not yet good enough to stop fighting for more.
The politics of theatre are important. As festival judge Kerry Kyriacos Michael tells Louisa Doyle on page 6: "No one's got time to watch anything nice anymore."
Noises Off is here to drive the vital conversations and to provide a platform for all our voices. We will gut, gnaw at and celebrate your show. We will analyse and criticise and satirise. We will ask what you think and we will care about the answer. For all this, we need you. Regardless of your previous writing experience, we want your essays, your illustrations, your scrappy iPhone notes, your Spotify playlists and your anonymous ideas. Send your ideas to [email protected] or come and visit us on the ground floor of the Campus Centre.