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Young Fest returns to Bluecoat

Young Fest returns to Bluecoat, Sat 22 & Sun 23 April, for a weekend of physical theatre inspired performances and workshops. We invited the team behind Young Fest, Tmesis Theatre, in for a conversation, in order to learn a little about physical theatre, about what you can expect from the festival, and why family friendly art festivals are so important. Find out more below:

Young Fest, is an offshoot of Physical Fest, can you please tell our readers a little about what the festivals are about, and how they came to be?

Physical Fest is an annual festival of physical theatre that brings workshops, events, street theatre and performances from world renowned, local, national and international artists to the city, many who have not performed in Liverpool before. It started originally, twelve years ago, from being tired of travelling constantly to places in order to take part in workshops, so we decided to bring them to us. It has grown massively over the past few years to include a wide variety of performance, street theatre day, trainee company, industry events and our Young Fest weekend.

Young Fest is our way of introducing physical theatre to young people and their families. It’s such a fun and lovely weekend of workshops and performance that enable us to reach a larger and diverse audience, and also show the outcome of some of our annual participatory projects.

Physical Fest is the only festival of its kind in Europe that specialises solely in physical theatre. What exactly does the term physical theatre mean?

Well our interpretation of it, is when the work has a large emphasis on the ‘physicality’ of the body, but it doesn’t mean there is no text! We keep it quite open, and have a range of performance from clown, to mime and circus influenced work, to devised theatre with a highly physical approach.

Young Fest is a weekend of free workshops and performances especially for young people and their families. What do you think is important about introducing children to the world of physical theatre?

I think it’s so important for young people to be introduced to a range of art forms in order for them to develop creatively and socially. Physical theatre is an open, fun, expressive and playful way of engaging young people. Young Fest is really unique a time for young people, their parents/carers and our Fest team to work and play together which is lovely to see.

It allows people to see how much fun and benefit arts activities can be for young people and their families.

Do you think that there are issues around accessibility to the arts for children? How do events such as Young Fest go about resolving these issues?

The access issues for children are primarily associated with cost, access (where an event is held) parental choice, visibility and profile of events. Tmesis Theatre hope to address these issues by making access free, having our festival in a city centre venue, ensuring we market Young Fest locally and running associated workshops and events for communities throughout the Liverpool region.

Young Fest is hosted by Tmesis Theatre in partnership with Bluecoat, can you tell any of our readers that may be unfamiliar with the company who Tmesis Theatre are?

We are a physical theatre company, formed in 2003 and have toured nationally and internationally with our productions. The current show, Happy Hour is a physical comedy exploring our obsession with attaining success and happiness. It has just finished a 20-date tour and will be performing again in Liverpool at Physical Fest, at Unity Theatre on Fri 2 June.

As well as curating Physical Fest, we also run workshops, residencies and an annual Training Company.

Do you think that it’s important that Physical Fest and Young Fest take place in Liverpool? Do you think there is anything particular to the city that creates these kinds of moments and events?

Yes, as this is where we are based, making Liverpool a real host city for Physical Theatre and the development of the art form. It is the only festival of its kind in the UK that works with local, national and international artists, specialising solely in physical theatre.

Liverpool is a fantastic city for festivals, with so many unique events, it feels open to creative possibility and a culture hungry audience is out there! I introduced a street theatre day to the festival last year to try and widen our audience, and catch people who would not normally enter a venue, which has been a great way of using the cities places and spaces. This year it’s on Mon 29 May in Williamson Square.

With a wide variety of events taking place over the weekend, can you tell us of a couple of highlights worth looking out for?

I can’t wait for Jennifer Essex’s Superhero Dance workshop for 3-6 year olds…. finding your superhero self, and also her performance Space Rebel Princess, turning the traditional ‘princess’ idea on its head, literally! All the workshops will be great, plus a Monster Beast Disco… who could resist that?

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Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts, Bluecoat showcases talent across visual art, music, dance, live art and literature. As the most ...

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