The idea for the Generation to Generation (G2G) project was devised through discussions between the partners on IETM (International Network for Contemporary Performing Arts) international conferences in Athens and Montpellier where it became obvious that many theatres face similar challenges with teenage audience though coming from different parts of Europe. In discussion all the partners reported a gap in audiences between the ages of 12 and 20, meaning that the youngsters who frequented children theatre usually drop off in their teens and only some of them return to visit theatre on regular basis in their student years or later on.
All the partners agreed that the teenagers pose quite a challenge to theatre and other artistic media as they are an audience that is hard to grasp. On one hand they are still young, unpredictable, inexperienced, naive, even childish - but at the same time they form strong opinions and strong connections to certain topics. They are sometimes very easy to influence yet very eager to rebel against everything that exists outside “their world”. On the other hand they are the segment of society whose perceptions and patterns of behaviour can still be shifted in towards art, community and acceptance of differences if influenced and guided properly. By missing out on this age segment the theatre and other artistic practices lose a large number of future audiences. In the discussion partners came to conclusion that most of youth performances and workshops are set up by adults through adult’s visions of what teenagers might want and need. The performances for youth are almost entirely focused on the age group below 12 years and above 20, leaving an eight-year gap in between.
The problem as the partners perceive it is that the performances for 12 year olds are too childish for teenagers while those for 20 and above usually miss the point, are deemed to be boring, too artsy, or just plainly disconnected with the teenage universe or their vision of what theatre should be like. After looking for solutions in good practices around Europe we came across theatre companies from Germany, Netherlands, France and Belgium who already started addressing this issue in their own way.
The partners who teamed up in Generation to Generation project: Glej Theatre (Slovenia) Das Letzte Kleinod (Schiffdorf-Geestenseth, Germany), Likeminds (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), Théatre du Pélican (Clermont-Ferrand, France) with the support of the associated partners Image Aiguë (Lyon, France), fABULEUS (Leuven, Belgium) and Roundhouse (UK) are all among innovative leaders in the field of theatre for teenagers in their respective countries. Though the organisations have a similar mission they use very different approaches in their work with teenagers - but a common denominator appeared to be that the best way of attracting the teenage audience is not to produce performances for them but to let them be involved in the process of creation, letting the youngsters create performances for their peers.