Dominic Stevenson spoke to Lora Krasteva, festival producer at the CASA Latin American Theatre Festival and associate producer at Time Won’t Wait, about TWW’s upcoming production, Changing Places, which is part of the upcoming Croydon Heritage Festival.
Can you tell us a bit more about Changing Places?
Changing Places is a brand new project produced by Time Won’t Wait – a production company and collective dedicated to life performance, social change and having a good time!
For the first pilot edition of the project we’ve partnered with the Speaker’s Corner Committee in Croydon to deliver Changing Places – a platform for young people in the borough to tell their community what they would like to see change and how we can take positive action. It all comes with a very special blend of performance, spoken word, facilitation and the public speeches from the young people.
You have a lot of young people taking to the stage and talking about their hopes and ambitions, what do you expect to hear from them?
As part of the project we ran a free workshop with 10 of the young participants and three big themes emerged organically. These were: concerns about the future of our environment and climate change; issues of youth violence and crime prevention and under-age sex and pregnancy.
How far do you think giving young people the stage will go towards getting their voices being heard in the wider community?
I think there are two key things here, firstly, creating spaces where young people can take the stage and voice out their concerns and propose solutions to the wider community. Secondly, building their confidence and skills to continue creating such spaces after the project is over and inhabiting other spaces that might already exist in order to take ownership of their ideas and get their voice heard.
Do you think that there are enough opportunities for young people to share their thoughts and feelings?
In a country like the UK and especially in a city like London I think there are plenty of opportunities to do so. What is not so clear is perhaps how to find them, if there are truly inclusive and if young people are encouraged to jump on them, sign post to where they can find them, or even if there are highlighted as being important for our development. I think that’s where more work is needed.
The event is taking place during the Croydon Heritage Festival, why is it important to have events like this in communities like that of Croydon?
I think having an event like this at a heritage festival highlights the fact that past, present, and future are profoundly interlinked. There wouldn’t be a legacy (or heritage) to carry forward and be proud of without inspiring young people questioning it, re-imagining it and inventing new futures. As for why Croydon specifically, it’s a very young area with more than 70 thousand people aged 0 to 15 (more than any other London borough) and in fact 21 per cent of the population is under 16. It’s a place that has been living interesting changes, from the riots to new big redevelopment plans to name but a few, so it felt like a great fit for Changing Places – a project that seeks to open a space for young people and their community to think about change and take action.
The event will have a British Sign Language interpreter, as someone who is involved in theatre do you think enough is done to encourage people who may have a physical impairment to get involved and attend the theatre, and what more can be done?
Again, I was very impressed by the UK attitude towards disability and how so many performance companies are specifically working to tackle those barriers so that everyone can benefit from, actually create, and to be part of the arts. Of course the journey ahead of us is still very long. And I think one of the key things will be for everyone involved in facilitating performance (or any kind of artistic activity) to make it in a way that it is as open and accessible as possible in order to involve as many different people and abilities as possible.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I was born in Bulgaria and have been living as a migrant all my life. At uni I studied political sciences and Latin American and then did a Masters in European Studies which I finished in London. Somewhere along the way I decided what I what I really wanted to do, what could really connect people and build bridges was in fact theatre, performance and the arts in general. So I stayed here in order to make that happen!
How did you become involved with Changing Places, and Time Won’t Wait?
I had the opportunity to meet Time Wont Wait’s Artistic Director Sarah Sansom almost four years ago when I was working on a Fringe show in Edinburgh (it was my first Ed Fringe). We kept in touch and when Sarah launched the restructuring of TWW as a producing agency based on collaboration I was lucky enough to be in the room with some of the fantastic producers and makers who were there!
At some point during our journey there where a lot of projects on the table and Associate Artist Paschale Straiton’s soon-to-be “Changing Places” really hit home. My gut told me: this is the one. So I jumped on the opportunity to make it happen.
What events can we look forward to beyond Changing Places?
We are having that conversation as we speak! I think we want to work again with the group of young people as there are absolutely amazing and super talented. We also want to make more Changing Places and bring the event to other parts of London and beyond.
As it’s our pilot year we are still figuring out the model, the format, the scope. It would be brilliant to see it world-wide someday, and more people training with us in order to set up their own. As for TWW we’ve got our Funny Peculiar show on tour all summer. You should definitely check it out.
Changing Places takes place on Saturday 27 June, 12-2pm as part of the Croydon Heritage Festival.
You can find out more about Time Won’t Wait’s upcoming shows on their website: http://www.timewontwait.com