SICK! Festival 2019 invited artists to produce work which asks the question: what is the value of life? Baby Fever is the response from Contact Young Company, in which a group of young people explore what success looks like. Carmel Thomason chats to company producer, Keisha Thompson…
How would you describe Baby Fever?
Keisha: “Baby Fever is a devised theatre show that combines monologue, movement and audience interaction. Our young company want to explore the relationship between milestones, mental well-being and materialism. What does society expect of them? Are these things that they want to achieve? If so, can they?”
What does it mean for the audience to have an intimate and interactive experience?
Keisha: “It will be an intimate show set in the round. We don’t want to spoil the surprise but at points in the performers will be looking to the audience for guidance as they share what it feels like to be a young person in these uncertain times”.
Why is the audience limited to 50 people?
Keisha: “The directing company – Theater DEGASTEN – prefer small audiences that allow them to create an intimate environment. There will be an opportunity for each member of the audience to interact with a performer in some way”.
Why did you think it was important to explore milestones alongside mental health?
Keisha: “This all came from the young company and the directors. They started their discussion with milestones but soon the conversation went towards pressure, stress, paranoia, loneliness, lack of trust. All things that are linked to mental health”.
The piece was devised through workshops and discussions with young people. How old were the young people who took part?
Keisha: “The young people are 16-25 years old”.
Did anything come out of the workshops that surprised you?
Keisha: “There were two things that surprised me the most. Firstly, I assumed that most of them wouldn’t want to aspire to the traditional milestones that we see in society – education, job, house, car, baby, etc. But actually, most of them do – and why not?
“Secondly, many of them feel that they cannot aspire to these things. They feel like the structures of society are falling down around them – failing economies, fake news, climate change. Now it seems like those goals are unattainable”.
How are Amsterdam’s Theater DEGASTEN involved?
Keisha: “Elike and Rutger from Theater DEGASTEN are the directors. They started communicating with our young people from the start of this year. They visited them a few times over the summer before starting the intensive devising period mid-September”.
What did you learn from working with them?
Keisha: “They are very fluid and are mainly concerned with getting to know the young people. They are so invested in conditioning which has brilliant for our young people. They trust the content that they are coming up with. Their concern is more about getting them to understand what it means for them to be performers both for themselves as solo artists and as a company”.
What does it mean to be part of SICK! Festival 2019?
Keisha: “It’s a great opportunity to have our work programmed alongside other amazing artists. Moreover, Tim and Helen have been really present. They’ve met our young people, helped to shape the discussions, attended sharings. They really want to make sure that they hear what our young people have to say”.
Are there any plans for the show after the festival?
Keisha: “Not at this point but you never know. We’re always open to the possibilities of the work going elsewhere”.
Is there anything else you’d like to say about the show?
Keisha: “I’m really excited to share it. The directors and young people have been so honest with each it. We’ve created some really beautiful moments. I think it will be a great opportunity for us all to reflect on our milestones and our well-being in these uncertain times”.