ID: tuakiri, Festival of Youth

Festival of Youth

24 September 2019 /
Napier Municipal Theatre /
By Jess Soutar Barron

To garner a real appreciation of an art form a child should first participate in that form. Before they can truly enjoy ballet, let them dance, before they can really listen to a choir, let them sing, before they can appreciate theatre, let them play. Festival of Youth is about taking part not performing. It’s about feeling the shape and size of the performance space, sharing time with others, taking turns, waiting patiently. After all those things are mastered, it’s about dancing and singing and spoken word and movement. Then way down the list of priorities it’s about putting on a show.

Hundreds of kids gave it a go at the Napier Muni in a (very) full day followed by a two-hour production marrying all their offerings together. Held with tenderness and strength and persistent serenity by Dan Betty, LJ Easter, Krystal Neho, Champa Marciel, Moana Keefe and Howie McGuire, the ensemble gave it their all from poetry to storytelling to musical numbers, haka and dance. By way of introductions the rangatahi of the Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival ambassador programme spoke short pieces on what the theme of Identity meant to them personally while EIT’s music students provided the house band. It was a nice way for the older students to awhi and hold the intention of the younger participants. It showed an organic, whānau structure to the performing arts world that means young performers can look up to their seniors and they in turn model behaviours and etiquette for the youngsters, while still learning their craft from the professionals around them.

It’s fitting that this Festival is a few weeks before the Festival proper. By giving these kids a chance to experience all the ins and outs, ups and downs, behind the scenes and bums on seats parts of the theatre this crew are creating life long lovers of the art form, keen and knowledgeable future audiences, and who knows maybe an actor or two, a singer or three, a philanthropist, a producer or a promoter. What was seen this year at Festival of Youth was a seed of something wonderful, roll on 2020, when it’ll shoot up and blossom.

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