For the past four years we have been collaborating with Le ThéâtredelaCité (formerly Théâtre national de Toulouse) in France and the Théâtre National Wallonie-Bruxelles in Belgium alongside schools in London, Toulouse and Brussels. Working closely with teachers and playwrights as well as the students in all three countries to explore in various ways ‘what kind of world we live in’. The project had a very simple objective at its heart, to encourage and inspire teenagers to be curious about both the world around them and how they might write that world in such a way as to connect with their peers across borders. Having recently presented the students’ short plays we’re inspired and encouraged by how important dialogue with Europe was to them all.
‘it was [a] thoroughly enjoyable experience learning about French culture and their values and ideologies.’
Boundless Dialogue Student Writer
Boundless Dialogue was conceived as a way of exchanging the ideas and opinions of teenagers in a meaningful way across borders. The project has straddled a lot of political change, of course BREXIT but also more local shifts in political landscapes. The students have sent each other objects that symbolise their culture, their home and the cities they live in. The teachers and theatre staff have met regularly to debate how we tell stories, what new ways of engaging teenagers in theatre are needed and how we work in translation. The playwrights and translators have masterfully enabled the creation of bold visions of the world that young adults live in and then ensured that these ideas are expressed accurately in French and English.
Through all of this has been an unspoken commitment to the importance of listening, sometimes provoking and always acting with generosity to those whose culture we sit outside of. We’ve been humbled by the subtle nuances of cultural difference and we’ve been challenged by attitudes that don’t match our own. Often it has been the adults who have had the issues, whereas the teenagers displayed a genuine curiosity and appetite to get to know their peers in cities other than their own. The culmination of the project and the production of short plays a powerful legacy of the importance of telling stories.
As we take stock here at Boundless on the future of our own international work, including working with more European partners on Extended Universe we are keen to come up with new ways to bridge divides and reach across borders. We are struck by the hunger teenagers have to making real connections across borders and it is this that motivates us to build ever more innovative projects. Despite the hyper-connected world we all live in, it feels more important than ever to exchange stories, share ideas and collaborate with those who may be close neighbours or more distantly located. We hope to do just that in the years to come and to remain in dialogue with young adults around the world.
Students from two London schools have worked with playwrights to write new plays about the world they live in, which have then been translated and exchanged with partner schools in Toulouse and Brussels.
On July 8th, 2019 at Southwark Playhouse, London, the students performed their plays in English and French.
Working cross-curriculum in French and Drama classes, Boundless Dialogue celebrates the exchange of ideas between teenagers across borders.
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