Next Generation: Facilitating lifelong connections to young artists

Published on 23 May 2022

On Wednesday, along with the participants of the ASSITEJ International Next Generation residency 2022, we got to hear all about what the different Next Generation programmes are getting up to all over the world!

We heard from ASSITEJ Pakistan, ASSITEJ Serbia and ASSITEJ Korea during this lecture and the session acted as inspiration for the new Next Generation participants to try and make the most of their time at the Bibu/ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering 2022.

Firstly, from ASSITEJ Pakistan, Aamir Nawaz spoke about the aim of the Next Generation programme being to ‘bring young people from different backgrounds to learn about Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA)’ and to establish TYA in more regions of Pakistan. Nawaz went on to speak about the various residencies Next Generation Pakistan have worked on, including the 2018 residency which resulted in two final performances and the 2019 residency which resulted in three final performances from the participants. He expressed that the 2020 project was ‘a totally different experience’ as everything went online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During this conversation, Nawaz highlighted how important it was for Next Generation to have an, ‘equal contribution from each participant regardless of language’ in their projects. The participants from the project also get to meet with industry professionals to get insight on how to develop their art and to devise some ‘wonderful performances’.

‘We aim to have an equal contribution from each participant regardless of language.’

Aamir Nawaz

Nawaz explained that the most important thing is to ensure when facilitating the Next Generation programme is that the participants ‘work in a relaxed mood’, as they’re not in a classroom and are free to creatively interpret the tasks and exercises as they please, the facilitator asking the question – how do they want to explore? The takeaway from Nawaz to the group was that the Next Generation programme ‘are now good friends and collaborators for life’ and that is ‘one of the most beautiful products of Next Generation’.

‘The Next Generation team are now good friends and collaborators for life.’

Aamir Nawaz

Next, Sonja Petrovic and Diana Tepavac spoke about the work ASSITEJ Serbia in engaging in. Petrovic was one of the first participants of the Next Generation project in South East Europe and also mentioned that Serbia had hosted the very first Next Generation gathering in South East Europe.

Petrovic outlined the aims of Next Generation Serbia as, ‘gathering young residents’ to allow them to explore art through Theatre for Young Audiences and to also bring young people from different countries together. This first Next Generation project in Serbia worked with ASSITEJ Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia and Petrovic described this particular project, ‘an inspiring week of beautiful work’. She explained that the personalities of the young artists really came out over the course of the week and they could then implement their new knowledge and experience into their daily lives.

‘The 2018 Next Generation project in Serbia was an inspiring week of beautiful work.’

Sonja Petrovic

Some of the outcomes that Petrovic mentioned from the project were, inspiration for the young people to go back with fresh ideas, the development of a network of other artists and new skills and achievements in building something new together.

After this, Hyemin Han talked about ASSITEJ Korea and how they still managed to create art with the Next Generation group through the pandemic. The use of the theme ‘pause’ was the main inspiration of their work. The facilitator asked participants to reflect, recover and resume, asking:

What does pause mean to you?

The project included a live presentation of the work the young people produce, a Q&A and a virtual after party. The main aims of Next Generation Korea are to, give young artists a platform and to expand the international Next Generation programme to be more inclusive of Asian artists.

Lastly, Nishna Mehta was invited onto stage to speak about her experience on the Next Generation programme. Graciously, Mehta relieved herself from her technical duties momentarily, and came up from behind her desk to deliver an impromptu speech about the value of the Next Generation programme. Mehta had first been part of the Next Generation programme at Augenblick mal! 2015 in Berlin, then going onto being invited as part of the alumni in the following year at ON THE EDGE in Birmingham. Mehta stated that, ‘the programme really brings people together you wouldn’t be able to meet otherwise.’

‘The programme really brings people together you wouldn’t be able to meet otherwise.’

Nishna Mehta
Nishna Mehta speaking to the 2022 Next Generation participants

Some advice Mehta gave to the Next Generation participants stating, ‘it’s about how you maintain these connections’. She said that it was, ‘thanks to Next Generation and ASSITEJ, I now have friends from all over the world’. Mehta drove home how valuable these connections can be and how Next Generation can provide friends for a lifetime.

‘Thanks to Next Generation and ASSITEJ, I now have friends from all over the world.’

Nishna Mehta

Reflections

Diana Tepavac summarised the aims and impact of Next Generation. She outlined the following points:

  1. Next Generation builds artistic leadership qualities
  2. Next Generation gives young people ideas of how to continue in the TYA field
  3. Next Generation allows an entry point into ASSITEJ, as well as providing transformative life experiences
  4. Any alumni from Next Generation will always be part of it and have access to contacts and artists from their cohort

There were even conversations around more centres conducting regional programmes as it offers young people such unique and valuable experiences, as well as having the potential to operate as its own independent programme. Overall, the conversation was hopeful for the future and providing a really special insight into the work of the Next Generation network on a global scale.