Tag Archives: youth

Review: Influence (Theatre Royal Young Company)

By Megan Potterton

The Theatre Royal Young Company return with their latest production this week. Influence is on at The Drum theatre from Wednesday 21st – Saturday 24th August, and is yet another amazing example of the exceptional talent that this young theatre company brings to the stage.

Influence, written by Andy McGregor, is thought provoking, entertaining, funny and at times frightening, and the Young Company have done an amazing job at bringing its characters to life.

The play follows a group of young people who ‘enter a world of illegal data collecting and mind manipulation’ when a local boy goes missing. I will not reveal too much of the plot, as the twists, turns and shock factor of the play truly make it what it is, however the play revolves around technology, adventure, and everything not being as it seems. The writers of Influence have taken inspiration from the likes of Stranger Things, Black Mirror and The Matrix (we were given blue and red ‘pills’/Tic Tacs on our way into the auditorium) to create a story that you can’t help but be drawn into from the very moment the play opens.

Of course, it was not only the play’s plot that captured the audience’s attention on opening night. The company (consisting of a principal cast aged between 14 and 17 years old) immediately brought the play to life with their powerful dialogue and synchronised movements. They created believable and memorable characters and worked incredibly well alongside each other. Each member of the cast was engaging and energetic, adding to the plot with every interaction and facial expression made.

You could certainly feel the energy and excitement of opening night emanate from the cast. Notable performances were given from the young actresses who played Bobby Raferty and Marj Ainsworth, both of whom portrayed interesting and complex characters with what seemed like ease.

The direction, choreography, lighting and sound of this production are also impressive, and definitely play a part in creating a production that leaves such a lasting impact.

Influence is on at The Drum at the Theatre Royal Plymouth until Saturday 24th August. You can buy your tickets here: https://theatreroyal.com/whats-on/influence/#book

British Firework Championships 2019

By Megan Dibben

The British Firework Championships 2019 took place in Plymouth last week. With the amazing turn out of the weather, the outstanding entertainment and the spectacular fireworks displays, it is safe to say the two day event was a brilliant and unmissable one.

There was a lot of speculation as to whether Wednesday night would be worth attending due to Plymouth’s unpredictable weather, however many people were pleasantly surprised by the clear skies; perfect for viewing the fireworks late into the evening. Thousands of people flooded the Barbican’s narrow streets and crowded onto Plymouth Hoe awaiting the firework displays, and by 9pm it was difficult to even roam around the roads due to the amount of people who had arrived. This was an outstanding turn out, and it was lovely to see the people of Plymouth come together for a wonderful night.

The fireworks weren’t the only attraction however, as there were many local acts who performed for the crowds earlier in the evening – and they were spectacular! These included Ocean City Sounds Barbershop Chorus, a four part harmony singing group of around 50 men, Stage Stars musical theatre group and Street Factory dance group. On Thursday evening there were more fantastic performances from Plymkids musical theatre group and Natasha’s Bollywood Dance. These groups gave outstanding performances both nights, adding to the buzz of the evening and providing a wonderful build up to the fireworks displays at the end of the night.

Finally, the moment we all came for arrived, and the first bang of a firework silenced the crowds. The vibrant explosion of purple, red and blue above our heads was stunning, and for one moment everyone was looking in the same direction, watching in awe.

The competitors for Wednesday night were Nemisis Pyrotechnics, Aurora Fireworks and Phoenix Fireworks, however the third display was sadly cancelled due to technical issues. Thursday’s competitors, there were Illusion Fireworks, Selstar Fireworks and 1st Galaxy Fireworks. Selstar Fireworks were crowned the winners of the British Firework Championships 2019 the next day.

All of the displays were absolutely breath-taking however, and I think everyone who watched them can agree with me. Overall, both nights ended on a beautiful finish thanks to these brilliant competitors.

Photo provided courtesy of Will Hexter (Instagram: willh.jpg)

Plymouth’s Three Musketeers: Who Represents Plymouth in Westminster?

By Tobias Chalcraft

Lacking in knowledge on Plymouth’s elected representatives in Westminster? If so, look no further than Generation Plymouth to give you a quick, non-biased summary of Plymouth’s three musketeers.

Plymouth is split into three different constituencies: Sutton & Devonport, Moor View & South West Devon. Plymouth Moor View covers the North of the city, South West Devon covers some of the East and Plymouth Sutton & Devonport covers the rest of Plymouth, including the city centre. Unlike cities such as Manchester or Bournemouth, which have been run by a single party for decades, our city likes to keep a more open mind when it comes to its politics.

Since 1997 the Conservatives and Labour parties have frequently struggled to hold Plymouth city council for longer than 3 years before being voted out of office, with the Tories’ tenure between 2007-2012 being the sole exception. This division is also represented in our MPs.

So, who are these three MPs representing Plymouth constituencies in Westminster? Firstly, Luke Pollard is the Labour Co-operative MP that has represented Plymouth Sutton & Devonport for the last two years, taking the seat from the Conservatives in 2017. In July 2018 Pollard joined Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet in a role shadowing the Conservative’s environmental policies; predominately flooding, coastal communities and fisheries. He has always voted against the government’s Brexit deal and argues the best solution to the Brexit deadlock is a second public vote, with remain as an option.

Pollard is a member of the transport select committee, which examines what the government gets up to in the Department of Transport. His current campaigns include making Plymouth Sound the first national marine park, extending the M5 further westwards and ensuring that the retired nuclear submarines in Devonport are recycled.

Representing Plymouth Moor View is Conservative backbencher Johnny Mercer, who has held the seat since the 2015 election, taking the seat off Labour. Earlier this year Mercer said he wouldn’t support the Conservative government until the prosecutions of Northern Ireland veterans are stopped. Since September 2017 Mercer has been a member of multiple defence committees and the Health & Social Care committee, which scrutinise both defence and health aspects of government actions respectively. His campaigns include persuading the government to have a newly commissioned navy fleet of type 26s based at Devonport and improving mental health services and veterans’ care.

Mercer voted against the government’s negotiated Brexit deal in the first parliamentary vote in January, but then switched to support the deal in the second and third ‘meaningful votes’. Furthermore, in the indicative votes that took place in March as a result of parliament seeking a solution to the Brexit deadlock that could receive a majority of MPs’ support, Mercer supported leaving the EU without a deal.

The third Plymothian musketeer is Sir Gary Streeter, Conservative backbencher MP for South West Devon. Streeter has held his seat since 1997, having held another Plymouth-based seat 1992-1997. Over his 27 years in parliament, Streeter has held multiple roles including shadowing Labour’s Secretary of State for International Development (1998-2001).

Sir Gary currently sits on the Panel of Chairs, committee of Privileges and committee on Standards, and has sat on Environment and Home Affairs committees in the past. Streeter supports leaving the EU with a deal, having supported the aforementioned deal in all three votes. Campaigns supported by the Devon MP include moving more troops to his constituency, increasing funding for local schools and improving rail links in the South West.

So, there we have it, a simple overview of the three Plymouth MPs. Although our three musketeers don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye on most topics, our unique city is represented by people from somewhat differing backgrounds, political parties and even views on Brexit – would you believe it?

Do you know who your MP is? Head to https://www.theyworkforyou.com to find out who represents you and see their voting record to help you decide if they deserve your vote at the next election.

Review: CITIZEN (Theatre Royal People’s Company)

By Katie Stote

Love, loss, overcoming addiction and homelessness; these are just some of the hard-hitting stories which are bravely performed by the wonderful cast of CITIZEN.

The city can often feel like an incredibly lonely and isolating place. Amongst waves of anonymous faces, ears blocked with headphones, eyes to the ground and a constant stream of traffic fighting through never-ending roadworks, it’s easy to feel there is no time for human connection, community or personality. Therefore, a production such as CITIZEN could not be more needed or appreciated.

An honest and vulnerable production celebrating community, identity and the scars who make us who we are, CITIZEN is built upon real stories which happened to real people. Those people? It’s very own cast. The unorthodox structure of CITIZEN is the very embodiment of the unique and unexpected journeys taken by each member of the cast, which they courageously share with their audience.

From students to veterans, volunteers to pharmacists, the diverse cast are a representation of the people who make up the community of Plymouth. One member of the cast I even recognised as a barista at the local Costa. This was a simple but powerful reminder, which is at the very heart of CITIZEN, that even the people we see as strangers, the person behind the counter, the faces we walk past in the high street, carry stories and have lived through journeys we could never imagine.

The Theatre Royal People’s Company production opens with a passionate song and throughout the show are real statistics about the people of Plymouth. Some made the audience burst with laughter, others created thoughtful silence. The cast guided us through their stories with grace and creativity, often breaking the barrier between the stage and the audience, creating brilliant moments of laughter and reaffirming the meaningful human connection the production celebrates and encourages.

The free programme each member of the audience is given upon arrival includes a note from the director, Lucy Hirst, within which she says:

We knew we wanted to experiment with creating work in a different way, and that we wanted to do so with faces that really lived and breathed our city. We built foundations from authenticity, and called for bravery from the get-go.

Well, I can honestly say, and I’m sure anyone who is lucky enough to be in the audience of CITIZEN over the upcoming days will agree, they have achieved and exceeded their goal. CITIZEN is an incredible, uplifting and life-affirming celebration of the beauty that can be discovered in the diversity of our city.

The bravery of the cast, standing before a room of strangers and opening themselves up to vulnerability, each telling their story of what connects them to Plymouth, is beyond inspiring. Most importantly, CITIZEN is a compelling reminder that we are all a part of something bigger. We have all felt alone, happy, loved, anxious, excited and a whole other mix of emotions at some point in this city, just as we have all walked these streets and lived our lives here. To quote the opening song, ‘we are Plymouth’.

The Theatre Royal Plymouth People’s Company are performing CITIZEN in The Drum on Thursday 4th and Saturday 6th July. Find out more about the production here: www.theatreroyal.com/whats-on/2019/citizen

Opinion: The More We Know

By Megan Dibben

Each day we hear about new wars, weapons and wins on every media platform available. Growing up in a society that is prone to such things is devastating. In the eyes of a teenager, a young girl who has been told we live in a big, bright, beautiful world repeatedly, these events are inexplicably disheartening.

We all soon learn, however, that with age comes understanding, and with opinion comes backlash. A protest is happening on every corner of every street defending or promoting new beliefs each day. And as days, months and years pass, we are exposed to increasingly explicit content, destroying our innocence.

But why were we ever innocent in the first place? Is it because we were children, unable to comprehend violence or anger – an emotion we all naturally experience from a very young age? Indeed, wars cannot be justified by suggesting that anger is a natural human emotion. It is common knowledge that violence should never be praised, but is hiding our children, the children of the new generation, ever going to change what they see and learn?

For example, the age range for owning gaming consoles is lowering every day. There are primary school children playing video games, which is contributing to their knowledge on conflict, even if it is fictional. So, my question is: how can we allow an eight year old to play games where the actual aim is to kill as many people as possible, but at the same time restrict them from learning about the Sudan Crisis? Surely, if they can accept the violence and gore on their screens daily, they can handle a story about real life issues in the world they live in?

It’s a completely contradictory society, especially with the debate over who should learn about conflicts and who shouldn’t. And although many may argue that children are unable to cope and will be overcome with worry if we do expose them to such content, have you ever met a fully grown adult who didn’t worry about current issues in the world? Why do you think they hide this information? Because it scares them just as much as it would scare any child.

On the other hand, perhaps exposing children to this kind of content through fictional games can be used methodically to prepare them for when they eventually do hear about real life wars and conflicts. While we are allowing them to have fun playing video games, we may also be helping them to understand that the things on their screen also happen in real life.

While the Xbox version may not be real, it’s based on real life issues. This may help reduce shock or confusion when real events are explained to them – majorly decreasing the risk of being traumatised. This may also spark an interest in learning about current issues, expanding their knowledge as they get older. This in turn may open up career options or simply help them to become activists for what they believe in. In my opinion, it is important to stand up for what you believe in – even if you are reprimanded for it.

Whichever side you choose to take, someone will have an opinion on it. But in a society of people with many different beliefs, we should not expect our children to go through life oblivious to what is happening in the world around them.

It happens too often, even carrying on into a child’s teenage years. For me and many other 15/16 year olds, we are now expected to have an opinion on politics, which is something we have never been taught about. The majority of people my age have no say in the future of our country – but what does it matter? We have no idea what is going to happen anyway because we don’t have the knowledge – not even the basics for many. From a personal opinion, I wish I knew more about the world. But, should we trust that adults are protecting us for as long as they can?

So, my final question is – should we be protected or taught?

Under (Social Media) Pressure

By Affinity May

Scrolling through social media is one of the most popular pastimes of today’s generation. The concept of websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat make them a perfect way for companies to grow in popularity, in addition to creating platforms to share knowledge and art with the world. However, are these websites merely creating entertainment for today’s youths, or are they putting pressure on young woman and creating unnecessary expectations for us to try and adhere to?

The pressure to be presented as ‘perfect’ is increasing day by day. There seems to be an unwritten rule about how you should look and act. With young girls exposed to this on a daily basis, consequences such as insecurity, low self esteem and limited confidence often occur. 

I spoke to a group of women in Plymouth about their perspectives on this topic, and the answers were devastating. Amie Marie, aged 16, stated, “I feel the constant pressure to change myself to be a better person or to be accepted by society’s harsh rules/expectations”.

Kayleigh Smallest, aged 15, said, “Personally I have felt society’s pressure by the way people comment on things like skin , hair and most frequently the expectations of having ‘perfect’ teeth”.

Megan Symons, aged 17, stated, “I feel like everyone has this (…) ‘if you don’t look like this or don’t do these things, then you are bad’ attitude. It does affect me personally and I know that I need to find ways to combat these negative feelings”. 

Harriet Rogers, aged 16, said, “ I have experienced this pressure on more than one occasion and it has led to me feeling like I’m not good enough, that I’m not pretty enough, not skinny enough, haven’t got the perfect bum etc. As I’ve grown older I’ve realised that it’s not as big a deal as I made it out to be when I was younger, but I know that I’m not the only girl who’s felt this and I definitely won’t be the last” 

Of course social media is not the cause of all vulnerabilities towards young woman, but it is a reason that so many of our young teenage woman are feeling pressure to be presented as perfect online.

Plymouth Youth Climate Protests

By Tobias Chalcraft

Friday 21st June saw dozens of Plymouth locals take part in a protest to raise awareness of climate-related issues. This was part of the youth protests taking place by schoolchildren across Europe, pushing for more action from elected representatives to tackle climate change.

Organisers say that approximately 1.5 million children in over 1,600 cities will be taking part in the ‘Fridays for Future’ school strikes.

We spoke to two protestors, Hazel (19) and Brendan (20), to get more perspective into the protests taking place in the city. These active citizens argued that their demonstration would provide a good platform to spread awareness among Plymouth residents and put pressure on local businesses and the City Council to take further steps towards helping the planet.

Unsurprisingly, demonstrators said Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish activist making headlines across the world for pressing elected representatives to move towards greener policies, was a driving factor for increasing turnout in these protests.

In addition, various protests carried out by environmentalist group Extinction Rebellion were seen to inspire some of the older protestors taking part. Brendan also referred to campaigner SustainaClaus, who harnesses the joy of Saint Nicholas to help spread awareness of sustainability.

When asked about the efficiency of Plymouth MPs’ fight against climate change, Hazel gave modest praise to the green efforts of Luke Pollard (MP for Plymouth, Sutton & Devonport). This included his recent proposal to have decommissioned nuclear submarines held in Plymouth recycled.

It wasn’t all applause for Pollard though. Hazel went on to highlight that the MP’s role as Shadow Fisheries Minister adds some hypocrisy to his environmentalism, as fishing contributes to the increasing depletion and pollution of our oceans.

Another protestor, who was excused from school to attend, was happy to present some of the signs created by herself and her peers. One poster displayed 10 key reasons for why these young people were motivated to strike, including a reference to the UN’s recent climate report giving us just 12 years to half emissions in order to avoid global catastrophe.

These inspirational young people had multiple recommendations for readers seeking to contribute towards a greener world. These included mutually beneficial fixes for day-to-day life, such as using more public transport. For more green recommendations, check out Generation Plymouth’s article Plastics are Suffocating our Oceans.