Artistic Discoveries in European Schoolyards

Youth Activities | 2012, April 14 – 2012, April 22

Schoolyard in Town II "Through Our Eyes"

This year’s Youth Exchange was hosted by Pilot Theatre, with support from our host venue York Theatre Royal, in the city of York, England from 14–22 April, 2012. Young people, aged from 13–23, came from Hungary, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Estonia to join the British group in a jam-packed 9 days of activity. You can see highlights of the week and the performance on or
This project is a Youth in Europe Event, funded with support from the European Union and British Council as well as Platform 11+ .

The week consisted of participatory workshops from 10 in the morning till 9 in the evening – workshops run by directors, writers, photographers, visual art- ists, actors, choreographers and musicians – all exploring how the group saw and responded to their towns and cities, to their friends, to their lives. They asked what connects us and our thoughts and feelings and what makes us different – in other words what is the world like ‘Through Our Eyes’.
Highlights included the photography installation workshop working with the photographs the students had brought from home, a Treasure Hunt ‘York Zoo’, an impromptu inside picnic in a transformed ballroom as the heavens opened outside – ‘raining cats and dogs’, lots of singing, a Ce?ilidh, the playing of Estonian instruments and the ever popular pony game. In ad- dition there was a myriad of social and cultural events, including the sharing of games, songs and food (some very hot!) at the cultural fayre, which meant we were all able to get to know each other and our countries much better!

As the English weather was throwing everything at us we retreated inside the safe walls of St Olave’s Church for a site-specific performance, whereupon the sun promptly came out for the duration and illuminated the perform- ers through the magnificent windows – built-in lighting design! The performance, explored society and culture from the point of view of a young person, their hopes, dreams and beliefs and was devised and developed from their work in the workshops during the week. Set amongst the structures of the church people appeared from behind pillars, rose up from pews and behind lecterns, ran down the aisles, danced down the aisles, filled the space with their voices, their words, their energy.
Mandy Smith (Pilot)

In what was an exhilarating week, time was somehow found to create a fabulous exhibition in the foyer of the theatre. During the Youth Encounter, the space was converted into an interactive gallery, full of images which had inspired all the groups in the lead up to the event. The walls were covered with the images taken by the group but the viewer was then able to con- tinue the image by drawing in the space surrounding the photo, creating a further story.

Throughout the week of the Youth Exchange, families and friends could keep in touch with the activities of those taking part in the project by tuning in to Pilot Live. Pilot Live was hosted on both Pilot Theatre and Platform 11+’s websites and live streamed up to half an hour’s content a day, including videos containing highlights from the day’s activities and interviews with group members on their experiences so far and allowed people from across the world to send questions to be answered live on the show. Pi- lot Live was a popular addition to the week’s work and by the end of the project was receiving nearly 300 viewers from over ten different countries. It allowed international boundaries to be crossed in an instant and facilitated constant reflection and evaluation of the project from within the group.
Tom Bellerby (Pilot)

I ran two workshops exploring words, belief and different ways to understand each other when we don’t share a language. The young people, supported by wonderfully enthusiastic teachers from Hungary and Portugal, responded excellently and worked together with openness, sensitivity and a great deal of fun. Both were large groups from all six countries, but just two days into the project it was already clear how much they were enjoying working together and this helped make my short time with them both a pleasure and creatively productive. We explored the stories behind our names, what we believed in individually and as a group, the sounds of our different languages and what impressions we could gain of each other simply by listening even if we couldn’t understand every word. Returning three days later to see the performance they had created, I was delighted to see elements of the ideas we had explored intertwined with the music, movement and per- formance sequences they had produced with the project leaders. They had clearly taken creative responsibility themselves and integrated it all into the final sharing.
Richard Hurford (Writer)

The Platform 11+ week is an amazing opportunity for young people from all over Europe with various interests, skills and experience, to share an inten- sive theatre experience for a week and create a piece together. I have been involved for the last 2 projects in Estonia and the UK, and can vouch for its ability to change lives. Many of the young people involved have changed their career plans specifically because of this project, as well as making lifelong friends. It gives young people a passion for learning about and exploring other cultures as well as new genres of theatre.
Kate Plumb (York Youth Theatre Director)

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