TWO youth theatre companies, 5000 miles apart, will premiere a new film at the Solomonic Peacocks Theatre’s Easter Festival in April – created by the young performers as part of a year-long international collaboration.

The project, taking place digitally via Zoom and WhatsApp, has involved regular online creative workshops exploring youth voice and empowerment – and discovering the things that young people in both countries have in common.

The tri-lingual film– performed in Welsh, Chichewa and English – is a collaborative spoken word poem performed by the creators and filmed using mobile phones, one of the common technologies that unites young people around the world. 

An important aspect of the project was to ensure young people were at the centre of creating the work – with the group deciding to focus on the themes of empowering young women and girls, and their common link of bilingualism and a desire to share their daily lives and cultures digitally.

Alongside its premiere at SPT’s Easter Festival on Friday, April 8, a docu-film will be released showing the creation of the film and how the project has impacted on the young people involved. 

The project is funded through British Council Wales’s Go Digital fund, which was designed to facilitate digital partnerships between arts companies in Wales with counterparts in sub-Saharan Africa.

Solomonic Peacocks / National Youth Theatre of Wales

The project and its weekly sessions have been jointly produced by both companies, and has also enabled young theatre facilitators and producers to learn from each other, enabling a true cultural exchange.

Dawn Bowden, Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, congratulated the partnership: “It’s fantastic to see this international collaboration between National Youth Theatre of Wales and Solomonic Peacocks Theatre, Malawi. This exciting cultural exchange between young performers, on the theme of youth empowerment, truly embraces digital media and international partnership.

“Forging these kind of international connections is a key part of our arts strategy in Wales – and it’s heartening to see young people in Wales respond by focusing on what we have in common, rather than what divides us. I look forward to watching the finished film very soon and to see what the young people have created.”

Gillian Mitchell, Chief Executive of National Youth Arts Wales, said: “It’s been fantastic to be able to bring this life-changing cultural exchange to NYTW members. As the project clearly demonstrates, there is more that brings young people together around the world than separates them. We’re grateful to British Council Wales for funding the project, which has facilitated this exchange of ideas and will leave a lasting legacy in our two countries.

Natasha Nicholls, Arts Project Manager at British Council Wales, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting the young people from National Youth Arts Wales and Solomonic Peacocks Theatre in Malawi to explore digital theatre and cultural exchange.

“Go Digital is a British Council Wales programme to enable partners from Wales and Sub Saharan Africa to connect digitally, develop new relationships and explore new ways of working. The programme has taken place in Wales and 8 countries across Sub Saharan Africa, spanning dance, theatre, literature, film and visual arts.”

McArthur Matukuta, Executive Director at Solomonic Peacocks Theatre, said: “Even though the Covid-19 pandemic has blocked physical contact, the power of art unblocked the barrier through digital technology. It’s proved to be one of the best mediums of continuing exchanging and sharing skills amongst the young people”.

The film will be available to watch, for free, at from Friday, April 8.