Kate Ferris, of Collapsing Horse, has put together Young Radicals: Fringe for Kids, a programme at this year’s Dublin Fringe Festival dedicated to young people. John Vaughan sat down with her to find out more about the Young Radicals programme, of which you can find out more here.
John: What is the main motivation behind your work with the kids’ programme at the Dublin Fringe Festival? And why do you think it’s important to designate a space specifically for young people?
Kate: I work with a group called Collapsing Horse, and our aim is to break down the barrier of the target audience that so often cuts kids off from joining in. It stops them from experiencing theatre. When I was doing work years ago with The Ark, I was inspired to produce work with Irish artists for young people. I was interested in getting established artists to dip their toe into it because they might not have thought of it before. It was Chris [director of Fringe] who came to me about it; he had this idea to launch this Young Radicals program, and I was like, cool. The long term plan is that it might become something bigger and broader.
John: Does the programme consist of work initially created for kids, or more general work that you think kids will respond to?
Kate: It’s a programme that has work aimed at children aged 1-18, and it was important from the outset to make sure that every age had something: work made by young people, for young people. I’m working on a podcast with children, and their father is involved, too. But that’s very much led by Siobhan Kane. The other one we’re working on is Teen Dream, a collaboration with Young Hearts Run Free, and the idea was that they host live music events for Simon community. Teen Dream is a mixture of teen and adult performers.
“I guess the whole idea behind getting kids are involved is because they make up such a large percentage of the population and they deserve art just as much as anyone.”
John: Fringe is a great space for us to call into question established ideas of what’s considered normal, and often through theatre we don’t realize we’re taking part in a discussion. Is this important for young people to take part in?
Kate: Yes, I guess the whole idea behind getting kids are involved is because they make up such a large percentage of the population and they deserve art just as much as anyone. We also want to cultivate a rich culture of art, and we need to be including people at a young age, so that they don’t get to 18 and say, whats a theatre? But also to generate a rich community of artists, both making and spectating, taking part in what’s going on.
John: I think that’s true. I know that up until I hit my middle teens, I thought the theatre was somehow beyond my reach.
Kate: That’s what we’re trying to tackle, as well as the range of work; we have podcasts and music, so it’s not just text based theatre. A big part of what we’re trying to do is let them know that they can do it. We also think it’s important that they work with someone who can mentor them, someone with more experience.
John: What was it like to go back into that mindset of a child?
Kate: It was amazing! I love being around young people, regardless of their age. I’ve worked with Teen Educational Theatre Company and in the Lir Academy. I think what we have is more family work than children work, and it’s important that the adults can enjoy it too. I’ve been to kids’ standup gigs that are actually funnier than adult ones, and that creativity is what we’re trying to tap into.