As details of next year’s Cultural Olympiad are announced, we caught up with Holly Kendrick, the Director and CEO of the National Student Drama Festival, to find out how NSDF12 - ISDF (International Student Drama Festival) will be taking part in the Cultural Olympiad with a nine-day celebration of young people's theatre at Sheffield Theatres…
What does it mean for ISDF to be part of the Cultural Olympiad?
The Cultural Olympiad includes some extraordinary things and it’s wonderful to be associated with that. The BITE Season at the Barbican alone is incredible. Also, for us, it’s about reaching so many more young people across the world.
NSDF is about emerging artists, about young people who want to get stuck in, whatever they’re studying. It’ll be exciting to see what conversations come out of having an international mix and international visiting artists.
How long have you been the Director of the National Student Drama Festival?
I’ve been doing NSDF for five years. Next year will be my last. I think it’s time for some new blood and new ideas. It’s amazing to be able to go around the country and see all these shows. I normally see between 80 and 90 UK shows for NSDF, between 60 and 80 in Edinburgh and then I see all the shows by our visiting artists to programme the festival, so that’s another 50 on top of that.
We first pitched the International Student Drama Festival in 2008 and have been working on it ever since. We couldn’t have done it without IdeasTap, the Arts Council, Sunday Times or any of our other partners.
As Director of NSDF12-ISDF, do you get to fly around the world watching new shows?
Yes. We’re going to go out with a team of international selectors to see 22 shortlisted shows in Minsk, Boston, Toronto, Israel, Nigeria, Egypt (which is being hosted in Holland), Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, Iran, Germany, France, Russia, Georgia, South Africa and Rwanda. Congo and Palestine are applying with DVDs as a way to get around the difficulties entering and leaving those countries.
What are you looking for in these international shows?
We’ll be looking for what we look for in the UK shows – exceptional talent, innovation, originality and an ownership and commitment to their work. Also, we’re looking for something that you would pay to see again. The work you see at ISDF will be completely unique. Whether it’s a piece by a known author being performed by a group of actors who you know will be the future of theatre, or it’s a devised piece, a musical or a 12-minute piece by a clown – it’s about finding the next voice for theatre, from whatever genre.
What does it mean for young companies to be part of ISDF?
It’ll be totally extraordinary because it’s never been done before. It’s a global coming together, to talk about how we can engage young people in theatre and to find out how they want the industry to be in the future. NSDF is about peer review; it would be lovely have that debate on a global scale.
It’s amazing how the world has changed over the last 10 years. You can now watch YouTube footage of a show from Congo – that just wasn’t possible a few years ago.
Fingers crossed, ISDF will create a global next generation.
To apply for the International Student Drama Festival, visit the brief.