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Reflections on the Brighton Festival

I just returned from a festival of new work in Brighton, England, an hour south of London by train on the English Channel. It seems to me that the British theatre is thriving. I love how older artists encourage  younger generations and celebrate their innovation. I’ve found a similar sensibility in Russia where I’ve had the pleasure of seeing work regularly for the past 25 years. Senior artists actively mentor younger artists and facilitate and promote their work. What a wonderful atmosphere in which to grow as an aspiring artist, and what a satisfying tradition in which to participate as a mature artist. There’s evidence of generosity everywhere. Here at ArtsEmerson, as we bring artists into the community to develop their work over multiple years, I know similar connections will be made. Most of the faculty are already active professionals AND nurturing teachers so this special embrace is part of the culture. ArtsEmerson will happily add raw material to the mix. Additionally, I want area students studying theatre to experience the young ensemble groups we are hosting. Many of these groups began working together in College. They found common artistic ground and just naturally stayed together after graduating. That’s the moment of birth for most theaters. And, before you know it, an ensemble is on its feet strutting its stuff in front of admiring audiences. It’s not necessarily true that young performing artists face an uncertain future. I want young artists to see that they have the choice of controlling their own destinies. Look to your left, look to your right, find fellow students with shared values and complementary talent and stay together. In Moscow, the city recognizes that young artists at this juncture play an important role in the vitality of the community and the Mayor gives them temporary access to empty spaces in which to present their work to the public. It’s an essential boost at the start of a life as a theater artist. There are 250 theaters within the city limits of Moscow. Young artists attract young audiences living in an atmosphere in which young citizens choose to stay in the city. It’s healthy. Maybe we can help to foster a similar atmosphere in Boston.

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