The bomb’s gone off and a rabble of youngsters is all that’s left.
Having witnessed the end of the world while attending a young leaders conference, these brave souls must decide between cooperation and conflict. Can they save themselves and the rest of the world?
Think Lord of the Flies meets The Breakfast Club and you’ve got I Still Have No Friends.
Directed by Claire Glenn and written by Alan Grace, I Still Have No Friends is a self-devised piece by SAYarts’ On The Fringe, a group of South Australia’s young creatives.
“It’s on in a black box at Tandanya,” director Claire Glenn tells me. “With this particular group, we’ll talk about the shows they want to make, they have the ideas, and I facilitate their ideas and develop it into a show
“Every time we start a session, we kind of check in: ‘What have we done this week? What’s been worrying you? What’s happened?’ and we kind of have a discussion about it. The group, On The Fringe, they’re really politically aware. They’re very aware of things happening in North Korea and things happening in Europe and Eastern Europe and Russia, and America and the UK and Australia, so I said, ‘Well, why don’t we make a show about those things that concern you?’”
And with a few conversations and a couple of hypotheticals, a show was born.
“We had a lot of discussions about many political issues. I just asked the question, ‘Do you think if Trump was to push the button and there were people to survive, could we start humanity again and be better and be nicer to each other, or are we fundamentally predisposed to hate each other?’ And they went with the latter.
“Basically, they looked at the world around them and what’s happening, and that’s what the show’s about. It also is influenced by Lord of the Flies, but it came from two full terms of development and talking about big political issues and trying to figure out whether we could start our own society.”
These clever and politically aware young people want to open their audiences’ minds and have them feel a little empathy.
“I think that they all, as a group, want the audience to re-examine their place in the world,” Claire says. “This group always comes up with really, really funny content, but this time they want their audience to get a little bit shocked and think, Ah, is this what our children are thinking about the world around them? I guess they want them to think about how they can do their bit to be a bit nicer, be a bit more accepting and treat people equally.”
Theatre is an outlet for these young people, but it is also a passion and a safe space for them to explore their identity and ideas, which Claire says is crucial for young creatives.
“In Australia, there’s such a focus on sport and not everyone wants to do that. Not everybody necessarily feels like they’re part of something or part of a group, but with theatre, with art, they really do find their tribe,” she says. “They’ve got their friends that they see at least once a week, but often they become best friends out of the group.
“We’re teaching them theatre skills and art-making skills and acting skills, of course. And some of them will go on to be actors, and that’s great, and some of them won’t, and that’s great as well. But they’ve found something, they’ve found a connection and they’ve been able to accept themselves and accept who they are, and have people who are like them to just feel safe with. That’s really important.
“The thing I learn working with young people is that they’re all geniuses, and they just don’t know it. They have incredible ideas and they’re so creative. As we get older, we sort of lose that, so I love being a part of harnessing that creativity. I just think that the minds of children and young people are really incredible and we should be listening to them. We should be finding out everything we can. They know lots of stuff that we don’t know.”
I Still Have No Friends is playing from 28 February and you can grab your tickets and support these remarkable young people HERE.
For more information on SAYarts, visit their website.
By Libby Parker