Posted on August 15th, 2022
For the last couple of years HighTide has delivered a series of workshops at Latitude Festival in the Inbetweeners Arena and 2022 was no different. The Inbetweeners arena – a part of the festival designed for 12-16 year olds – is curated with such care and kindness by Alice and Alex from Creative Nation, and this year it was back, bigger and better than ever showcasing the best of the East of England and what young people have to offer; providing the space for them to try something new and expand their creativity. From upscaling clothes, t-shirt printing, placard making, radio shacks, music, dance and workshops, you name it, it was going on in the Inbetweeners arena.
HighTide’s first workshop of the weekend: Lights! Camera! Improvise!, was led by Essex Writer and Actor – Anne Odeke. It was remarkable to see how this young group of strangers came to the workshop with such an openness and willingness to step outside of their comfort zone and give it a go. Picture this, a 5 year old dressed as a fairy walks by with her family, likes what she sees in the tent and runs in. The teenage girls taking part in the workshop (after a nod from the fairy’s mum), held out their hand and included the fairy straight away – no questions asked. Not only did they do that, they also made her the Superhero in their freeze frame and lifted her up in the air so she could be the flying Superhero fairy. And that’s the energy we need to take forward whilst making theatre and in our day to day lives: team work, welcoming others with open hearts and minds, and empowering and lifting others up with you. Anne did that to this group of teenage girls, and the teenage girls did this to our Superhero Fairy – who then took a bow and went on with the rest of her day, leaving Anne and the girls to finish off the workshop.
The Second Workshop was Finding Your Funny Bone, led by local writer and performer Sadie Clark. One of the brilliant things about the workshops was seeing people lose their inhibitions and go from being a bit quiet and uncertain at the beginning to taking the mic and giving a short stand up routine by the end. Hand us an iron…we were creased. One thing we learnt is the power of the microphone – it was a big helper in getting our budding comedians out of their shell. Maybe it’s about turning around and being like, ‘you know what, I think you’ve got something important to say, take the space, take the mic and say what’s on your mind, say it with your chest loud and clear through the mic and we are all going to listen.’
And when you hand a group of teenagers a microphone you will find:
- That you have made someone feel braver
- That you have empowered someone to say what’s on their mind
- And that those young people have a lot to say about the world we live in, the situation we find ourselves in, and some hot takes on who is in the race for the next Prime Minister and the names of celebrity’s children
Our final workshop of the festival, led by Sadie was Finding Your Inspiration. This workshop was about helping our writer’s of tomorrow unlock and realise their potential. The workshop was perfect for the Sunday, and the group of young people who took part gave such thoughtful and honest responses to Sadie’s provocations. Once again, Sadie held space beautifully for the young people and left them with exercises and tools to spark and unlock their creativity. I asked one of the boys if he had written before and he said, ‘no, I was interested in the finding your inspiration part. That has really helped, so I think I will write now.’ Can’t say fairer than that really.
As we were leaving the Inbetweeners Area for another year, we walked past the placard making area and there were Love is Love signs, there were Black Lives Matter Signs, there were pro-choice signs, Climate Justice signs, Ukrainian flags all made by young people with Suffolk Artlink. They are so tuned in and we just have to keep giving young people the space, hand them the mic, listen, empower and lift them up. We could learn a lot from them.
A big shout out to Anne and Sadie for their workshops and Creative Nation for having us. Also, it’s the perfect opportunity to give a shout out to Sharon Kanolik, our Engagement Producer and to all Engagement Producers up and down the country. The work they do is essential and vital to the Theatre landscape and ecology. Over the last year Sharon has led some brilliant projects with young people across the East of England and we are excited to develop these relationships further over the coming months…watch this space!