Over 30 young people from the Mandala Theatre Company and Pegasus Theatre in Oxford will be participating in the Rencontre, one of the longest running International Youth Theatre Festivals in Europe, from 1 to 10 July in Grenoble, France.
16 theatre groups from 11 countries are participating in the event taking place across several venues and also in the streets of the city. On 5 July, it’s Grenoble-Oxford day, bringing together members of the two Oxford troupes, the Alliance Grenoble-Oxford and the Migrants en Isère, a NGO campaigning for the rights of immigrants in Grenoble and in the Isère region. They will watch performances and participate in a discussion about immigration and asylum complementing Mandala Theatre Company's performance, which focuses on this issue.
The twinning of the two cities goes back to the 1980s. Oxford City Council is contributing to the trip, as part of our twinning exchange, complementing the fundraising activities the young people have been doing. Mandala and Pegasus have organised a World Music Dance Night, taken part in the Fun Run, set up cake sales, and other events to get the donations needed to make sure the young people can be part of the festival. Councillor Christine Simm, Board Member for Culture and Communities said: “This is an exciting opportunity to strengthen the cultural links between the two cities and to showcase Oxford Youth Theatres to an international audience”.
Yasmin Sidhwa, Artistic Director of Mandala Theatre Company said: “It’s an event that brings together young people from so many countries where they have the opportunity to debate, socialise and perform together. It’s a way of learning, showcasing and sharing their views and ideas from so many different perspectives within Europe and beyond.”
One of the participants from Oxford who went last year, Hannah McNally aged 17, said: “being part of such an amazing Youth Exchange has had an incredibly positive impact on my life. Through the workshops I have gained knowledge of different styles and techniques when performing. Through social meetings and discussions I have gained some amazing friends from all over the world and learnt about their cultures and backgrounds. The trip has been an unforgettable experience which has made me a more open-minded, confident and independent person”.