Teen talk

19:01, Feb 25 2014
Southland Times photo
Southland performers can audition for Yo Future, a production told from the perspective of young people. Yo Future has been staged across the country, including at the Kokomai Creative Festival in the Wairarapa, pictured above.

Are millennials only interested in selfies, sex and surfing the net? Is the future of humanity doomed? Playwright and director Jo Randerson collaborates with young Southland performers to explore how they see the world. Lauren Hayes reports.

Lydia Bennett was boy-crazy, Juliet Capulet disobeyed her parents and Holden Caulfield had a serious case of caustic teenage cynicism.

The stereotypes started centuries ago, cemented through the rock and roll and television of the 1950s, the heyday of teenagedom.

Antisocial, disobedient and probably up to no good, teenagers are bad news. That's how the stereotype goes.

Even today, young people often find themselves boxed in the same narrow narrative, although the stories are increasingly tinged with technology.

Teenagers spend too long online, not enough time outdoors, the naysayers claim. They can't socialise without a screen. They need to pull up their pants, speak slower and take those goddamn headphones out of their ears.


That's not the story playwright, performer and director Jo Randerson wants to tell.

Randerson is bringing her unique performance Yo Future to Invercargill, during the Southland Festival of Arts.

It's a piece centred on young people, part point-of-view, part fortune telling and part pure theatrics. It's not yet fully written.

A yet-to-be-chosen group of young Southland performers will help Randerson flesh out the themes and nuances of the work, adding their experiences of the world, their hopes and expectations, to a pre-written score.

Randerson has staged Yo Future in other centres. It's been an interesting learning curve, seeing what the youth of the moment think and feel, seeing the zeitgeist shift with every new show.

Also interesting, and somewhat contrary to popular opinion, she's found teenagers actually do care about things other than selfies and snapchats.

Young people are worried about climate change and finite resources, about human rights and war, she says. They know stuff, probably because they are capable of finding vast amounts of information on the internet, and are generally pretty optimistic about the future of humanity.

Randerson promises the show will transcend certain expectations.

The performance will engage the whole body, but it's definitely not dance. It's a production, but it's completely different from the typical school play.

"It's not acting," Randerson explains. "It's more about being, in a way."

For Venture Southland creative projects manager Angela Newell Yo Future is something special, a physical, visceral work.

It's also a fantastic opportunity for "the creme de la creme" of young performers and those who want to carve out a career in the performing arts.

As a top theatre director, Randerson could do more for a budding actor than just pass on extensive knowledge and skills.

"If she really likes what you do and thinks you've got talent, she'll be an amazing person to have on your CV."

She is encouraging Southland performers aged about 15 and up, available for rehearsals and workshopping in the school holidays, to try out for the show.

Auditions will be held on Monday, February 24, at the Invercargill Musical Theatre rooms, 5pm-7pm.

Yo Future will be performed at Stadium Southland on May 18, as part of the Southland Festival of Arts.

The Southland Times