In ARE YOU STILL WATCHING, time seems to continually repeat itself. Wigs go on, wigs come off, humans crawl out of sofas and horses refuse turnips. TV is a cataclysm and full of larger-than-life images and chaos. As our writers get to grips with it (pages 4-5), we’ve been settling into life at the festival. Time at NSDF is elasticky and strange: sheer minutes become invaluable and feel full of strength, but hours drain away (into shows, into discussions, into walking – all the walking!).
The festival kicked off properly on Saturday night with the opening party – read Joseph Winer’s piece on page 3 unpicking Chris Stafford's opening words, and Sam Ross’s piece on trigger warnings on page 9 for more hard thinking about what NSDF should, can or could be. On page 12, Liam Rees looks at what it means to sit in a dark room, surrounded by an audience, and feel disconnected from what you see. On pages eight, 10 and 11, our writers grapple with Things We Do Not Know; it’s exhilarating to see student theatre that enacts change in the time of crisis we’ve all been talking about. Meanwhile, on pages 12 and 13, some light relief as our writers clown around with Bost-Uni Plues.
Chris Thorpe’s remarks in the Sunday discussion about the importance of listening – to each other, till the end of the sentence, to the people we disagree with – have stuck with us. We are so determined not to listen to people we have been forced to listen to for generations. But how do we do this while still listening to those whose opinions differ from our own?
NSDF (and Noises Off) is such an exciting environment because it’s about listening. It’s rare to exist at a festival where you can go into each show with such an open mind. Conversation is central, and for that, we need to listen to each other.
NSDF is a place free from shame: we might disagree with each other, but the conversation is open to all, and we don’t refuse to listen. I (this is Florence here) felt slightly ashamed after Chris’s remark that anyone who put their head in their hands, muttered to themselves and refused to listen was as much a part of the problem. I (this is Naomi here) still felt slightly ashamed despite Chris’s remark being that any white person who put their head in their hands was part of the problem. I’m so used to disengaging with arguments that I’ve heard many times before, is it not my task too to be part of those conversations?
But we move on: we hold our hands up and admit that we got something wrong, reacted wrong, spoke out of turn. NSDF is special because we can do that: change our minds without judgement. Changing your mind might be one of the bravest things you can do.
Listening takes patience. But we’ve got all week.
Naomi and Florence xoxo
Text from Florence’s Mum: Hi, I hope all going well in Leicester. Good luck . Lots of love Mum <3
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