Whenever we write an editorial, we try to sum up the contents of the magazine, the mood of the festival – and, in the first issue of the NSDF week, what’s happened in the past year.
It’s difficult to do that here. At last year’s virtual festival, everything felt new. Zoom was a new concept for us. And NSDF without shows was a new reality too. An NSDF on Zoom without shows felt like stepping through the looking glass. Except, with the whole world still streaming in.
The deaths from Covid-19 were overwhelming. We were fearful – all of us, for ourselves, our loved ones, of the unknown. Over the past year, the unknown has expanded and enveloped us. The reality of this pandemic has become mundane while the world has continued to shudder and throw its challenges at us with full force. Black Lives Matter protests around the world. Introspection and rage. A major election in the US. Reclaim the Night vigils around the UK. An insurrection. How can you begin to respond to that?
On the first day of the festival, Seen, made by students at New VIc Sixth Form College, did just that. A direct response to food poverty and racist policing in the UK, Seen asked its audience to care, and most, importantly, to see young people. “Do I look like a threat?”, Moses Oridoye asked the audience, in a monologue that felt unflinchingly honest and deeply raw (reviews on p10, 13).
to hunt violets was also about the lives of young people – but approached the topic from a different direction. Redrafted in the wake of Sarah Everard’s death, Juniper Theatre’s production slowly probes its audience, seeding in warning signs about how society excuses and abets rape culture. “His heart’s in the right place,” one man says of another early on. That clearly isn’t enough (more on p12, 14).
There are more reviews inside this issue of Noises Off – of This Is A Love Song, a new play from Tiny Change theatre, which asks big questions about the world around us through the relationships it portrays, and of The Light Catcher, a startling new film made by Theatron and Thespo, NSDF’s equivalent in India. There are other articles to sink your teeth into, by our super-team of Noises Off writers, who’ve launched themselves into NSDF 21 with Previews of show and interviews, a flavour of what’s to come and an insight into the strange world of making theatre over the internet.
There’s something bizarre about having to write an editorial. Is it because it’s on the first page of the magazine? Or because it’s meant to be a piece that sums up the articles that follow it? It feels like it has more weight than it should have. This page of the magazine is no more important than any other. In fact, if you were going to skip any one section of the magazine, we’d tell you to skip this one. It’s not because this isn’t worth reading, it’s just because we don’t like the idea that it has some kind of authority.
Having seen some of the shows, we’ve been thinking a lot about how young people are seen and listened to, are respected, are given equal chances in life regardless of their race, class and gender. Sometimes having an editorial in this magazine feels like saying: these are not just views these are the views of the editors. You should read very carefully. This is important.
That’s not the case. This is your magazine. A space for all fest-goers to be seen and heard. We hope that you will make use of it. We are also making our annual Noff zine with a big group of people over Zoom on Thursday night. Everyone is welcome to pitch in and suggest ideas, and that feels like a positive step too.