This week has been by far the best time I’ve had all year.
I heard so much last year about the brilliant community, engaging discussion and debate, and powerful sense of action that the NSDF fosters. Not to mention all the enthralling theatre.
I’m glad to say the hype did not disappoint. I’ve had the best time.
I’m sad I didn’t get to see more. I would have loved to have seen Grounded. I’ve heard great things about it, and it’s a real shame that the final performance was already full up. There’s a debate to be had about making sure that audiences and performers alike get an equal opportunity to sample all the work of the festival.
I have loved the stuff I did get to see though. I am obsessed by the entirety of Poltergeist Theatre and their beautiful show Lights Over Tesco Carpark. I am in awe of my fellow solo performers, Sarah Carton, Stevie Thomas and Steph Sarratt (in Hatch, 1001010 and Grounded respectively). And poignant shows such as The Events and Seeking Intimacy gave us time to reflect about the complex nature of the human condition.
It’s been a real pleasure to mingle with such an excitingly talented crowd of individuals. Some of them I know from University, some from Sixth Form and even some from Secondary School. A lot of them I’ve had the pleasure to encounter for the first time. Some I have admired within the online theatre community for a while, so it’s been great to finally meet them in person. It has also been a privilege to meet the wonderful visiting artists and having the chance to enter into a deeper dialogue with them about the theatre industry (shout out to Lucy Ellinson, Chris Thorpe, Cathy Tyson and Chris Haydon).
Most of all, I have made so many wonderful, talented and (hopefully) lifelong friends.
The festival has not been completely perfect. There have been setbacks and mistakes over the course of the week. However, I have definitively taken the lessons from these to heart and will carry them with me as I progress through this beautifully chaotic industry.
And of course I’ve loved the epic and intimate moments of connection throughout the festival. The fucking phenomenal drag of Reign. The sharing of a meme to friends. The collective passionate and euphoric singing of Aerosmith’s "I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing". The informal friendly discussions around the dinner table.
I really don’t want this to end. I feel deep anxiety that I have not done everything. Not seen all the shows. Not grabbed every opportunity by the horns. Not lead a significant movement or change. Not talked enough with others. Not connected enough.
(I did create the meme of the day though. That’s something. An absurd shout into the void.)
Maybe everyone at the festival feels this way a bit too. And when we all leave Leicester on Saturday we’ll all probably feel a pang of deep sadness, a lament for this all too brief annual communal gathering.
This is why the NSDF Alumni Facebook group is so important. I’d highly recommend it. I honestly want to stay in touch with as many of these cool theatrical people that I’ve come to know – and cool interesting technical people – as possible. The thing which Carys Jones et al have started is vital in this respect.
I will definitely be coming back next year though. I can hardly wait.