IGNITE! Youth Driven Arts Festival: An inside look with Jeanine Longley!

Cultch Youth Panel Member Jeanine Longley

Cultch Youth Panel Member Jeanine Longley

This week, the York Theatre plays host to the IGNITE! Youth Drive Arts Festival! Led, coordinated, and organized by The Cultch’s very own Youth Panel, this event is definitely not one to miss!

But first, a little background.

The Cultch’s Youth Panel is a group of approximately 20 young people aged 13-24 from all over Vancouver with a passion for the performing arts. From Sep-May, the ambitious, curious, and fun-loving group meet once a week to plan and learn about all aspects of festival organization. Everything from technical operations to marketing and media relations. The professional festival is the culmination of nine months of passion, dedication, and hard work.

We were able to catch a moment with Jeanine Longley, a Youth Panel Member, to get an inside look at this year’s festivities.

Hi Jeanine! Could you tell us a little bit about IGNITE! and the role the youth play in creating this event?

The IGNITE! Youth Festival is multifaceted. Younger and newer members on the youth panel are learning how to put on a festival, everything from advertising to operating a sound board. We are showing the community what youth are capable of, both in featuring completely youth performers, and in having the entire festival run by youth. As a collective, we are IGNITE! and we hope to ignite, inspire, and celebrate youth creativity.

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This is the first year that the IGNITE! Youth Festival is taking place at the York Theatre, down the street from The Cultch. How did this decision take place?

The IGNITE! Youth Festival has always been at the Historic Theatre. We chose to move to the York Theatre this year to explore a beautiful new space. The York has incredible options for a festival like ours, both in decorating options (that stunning lobby!) and in the theatre itself. We are definitely excited to try out our new home.

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I understand that the youth panel also creates an IGNITE! Youth Festival Zine. Could you tell us a little about it and where patrons can get a copy?

The IGNITE! Zine will be available for purchase at the Merchandise table each night of the festival. It features art and poetry and prose submitted by youth. It is hand-made and incredibly awesome!

There are quite a diverse range of themes throughout the week, how does the youth panel decide on the programming for each night? 

This year we are featuring our favourite themes from our extensive history as a festival. We have found that our audience has a variety of interests, and as we like to feature a variety of performers, a variety of themes seems to fit the bill! As a whole, our festival really has the youth aspect to tie everything together, so although our individual nights are quite varied, we hope that our audience will be keen to try out all the different flavours available!

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What are your must-see acts in this year’s IGNITE! Youth Festival?

Oh, I can’t pick favourites! Well, maybe I can. I know the performers in the band Leave, who are performing on Saturday, and psst – a bird told you (not I!) that a fantastic MC might be mastering that flawless ceremony! (OK – it’s me!).

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If there’s ONE thing you want our readers to know about this year’s festival, what would it be?

It’s going to freaking ROCK! Each night has an enthusiastic team of youth behind it, really shining the spotlight on amazing performers and creating a super fun environment for the audience to participate in. I hope to see you there!

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The IGNITE! Youth Festival runs from May 12 – 16. The festival includes showcases in music, dance, and spoken word, the world premiere of two one-act plays, a visual arts exhibit, variety shows featuring improv, circus arts, and much more! Tickets starts at only $2 and can be purchased online or by calling the box office at 604.251.1363.

IGNITE! Festival: An interview with Chalene Scott, director of ‘Mighty Qualified, Plenty Smote’

Every year in May, The Cultch hands over its facilities to young artists in town to bring you the IGNITE! Festival. Chalene Scott is one of the three emerging directors selected from an application process this fall to participate in the IGNITE! Mentorship Program and direct the three new plays presented in the festival.

For the mentorship Scott was paired with director Stephen Drover (Penelope, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot) for guidance along the way. Chalene is directing Mighty Qualified, Plenty Smote written by emerging playwright Ronan K. Nanning Watson (also a participant, paired with mentor David Geary). The directors cast their own shows, found a crew to produce them, and will debut these brand new scripts starting next Monday in the Vancity Culture Lab. We had a chance to chat with Chalene about the play she is directing and the process she went through.

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Sean Fabisch, Deanna Rayne, and Chalene Scott – Photos by Maurice Tsai

Can you tell us a little bit about the play?

Mighty Qualified, Plenty Smote is a sort of surreal look at right and wrong. The main action revolves around a devil-figure, Staniel, trying to obtain a woman’s soul, but the woman, Liona, doesn’t believe in souls or the devil. We have a hero whose good intentions may have led her to do “wrong” things, and we have a classic villain who may be motivated by the purest ideals. So who’s right if everyone is wrong? On top of that, there’s a chorus of amoral and philosophizing child-mystics with no clear agenda, helping and hindering at will. The play explores themes of morality through blues music and sensationalism.

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Shon Burnett, Keren Katz, and Chalene Scott – Photos by Maurice Tsai

What drew you to this script?

The first immediate draw was that the script terrified me artistically. I had never done a show so incorporeal and transient in terms of setting and character. So, obviously, I had to direct it! Then there’s the lovely way Ronan (the playwright) plays with language and themes. I just sort of fell in love with it after the first reading.

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Keren Katz, Shon Burnett, and Chalene Scott – Photos by Maurice Tsai

What is something that surprised you about the IGNITE experience?

There have been many pleasant surprises thrown my way by IGNITE. I really had no idea what I was signing up for when I submitted my application. IGNITE takes  such good care of its participants! When I got the full schedule, I was surprised to see so many workshops aimed at forging the skills that young artists need to forward their projects, companies, or individual art. I think it’s amazing that the participants are supported not only in creating the art they were accepted into the program to create, but are also given the skill to continue creating afterwards.
Rob (Robert Leveroos, Youth Program Manager) has done an amazing job keeping everyone organized, but I was so pleased to see how much the youth panel is responsible for. I’m a huge advocate for giving youth the opportunity to experience responsibility in a safe environment before they have to deal with high stakes responsibility in the “real world”.

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Photos by Maurice Tsai

Tell us about working with your mentor Stephen Drover. Is there something you’ve learned that you can share with us?

Stephen’s been great to work with. He’s supportive in a very constructive way. If I come in with an idea and ask it it’s crazy, he won’t tell me what he thinks. Instead, he’ll give me a few more tools so I can decide for myself. I think the biggest lesson has been that there are no absolutes and when in doubt, I should trust my instincts. We have instincts for a reason and to ignore them is to spit in the face of artistic expression.

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Keren Katz, Beni Spieler , and Shon Burnett – Photos by Maurice Tsai

Your production marks a first in the IGNITE! Program, you’re working with three youth aged 10-11, tell us about that decision to work with such young performers.

After I got the script, I spent some time with it, as one does, and fairly immediately realized that the chorus could not have the same effect (in fact, their effectiveness would be significantly diminished) were I to cast adults, or even teenagers. There’s something weirdly gripping about seeing the devil pandering to a posse of preteens. I knew there would be extra challenges in casting kids so young, but ultimately, I knew it would be worth the effort. So far, I think I’m right.

 

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Sean Fabisch, Gauri Roy, Shon Burnett, Deanna Rayne, and Keren Katz – Photos by Maurice Tsai

How has it been to work with them? What can audiences expect when they come see your show?

They’re all wonderful to work with. The trickiest thing about the kid’s roles is that they really aren’t written for children. Audiences should not come in expecting to see a children’s show. The themes are mature and the young ones rarely get to say anything they’d be likely to say outside of the show. They’ve risen to the occasion beautifully, expounding strings of large, complicated ideas that I think, would sound weird coming out of anyone, let alone a ten-year-old.
There’s also some blues music and shadow-play in the show. Something for everyone! (Except small children. Don’t bring the kids. We have a few foul words.)

 

The show is part of the IGNITE! Theatre Festival, May 5-10.
Monday, May 5: Mighty Qualified Plenty Smote and The Lies We Tell 6 pm
Tuesday, May 6: Party Princess No. Five and Mighty Qualified Plenty Smote 6 pm
Wednesday, May 7: The Lies We Tell and Party Princess Rule No. Five 6 pm
Thursday, May 8: The Lies We Tell and Party Princess Rule No. Five 6 pm
Friday, May 9: The Lies We Tell and Mighty Qualified Plenty Smote 6pm
Saturday, May 10: Party Princess Rule No. Five, Mighty Qualified Plenty Smote and The Lies We Tell 2 pm
Saturday, May 10: Party princess No. Five and Mighty Qualified Plenty Smote 6 pm

Tickets start at just $2 and can be purchased online.
Full festival information at igniteyouthfest.ca

Love to perform? Seeking performers for this year’s IGNITE! Youth Festival!

“You can time travel through wonderland, but you can’t wonderland through time travel…”

 
Get ready because this year, IGNITE! Youth Festival is all about wonderland! For one whole week in May (May 2nd-10th) youth will take over The Cultch and transform it into what has become Vancouver’s largest youth driven festival!
To help bring the wonderland alive, The Cultch’s Youth Panel is looking for talented performers of all kinds ages 13-24 to audition. No wonderland is complete without the wild and wacky, beautiful and graceful, bizarre and a little ugly, the amazing, the heroic, the new, the old… well really anything at all!

So if you have an idea of a real slam-bang performance, come out to the auditions. You can meet The Cultch Youth Panel, show them a little of what you can do and have a real fun time. We asked Mati, Clare and Mark of The Cultch Youth Panel for their thoughts on the upcoming auditions:

What are you excited to see at auditions?

“All the new and original acts, hopefully something that I wouldn’t have thought of, and maybe some familiar acts from previous years!”-Mati

“Everything! Last year was my first time on Panel, and while I didn’t know what to expect from the auditions, I was totally blown away. And it looks like it’ll be even better this year!”- Clare

“I’m optimistically looking forward to seeing acts I would never thought I would like, but will immediately adore. Last year, we had an acrobatic act that completely blew me away. Before that I’d never had much interest in that kind of performance. I’m excited to see what I will get introduced to this year.”-Mark

Who do you hope shows up?

“Anyone and everyone, the more the better! Some cool bands would be wicked fun!”-Mati

“Ringo Starr and David Bowie. But they’re probably a little too old…
I’m looking forward to seeing all of the auditions, but especially the people who are doing something out-of-the-box. I want to see people with acts that I’ve never even imagined seeing!”-Clare

“I’d like to see some more electronic musicians audition simply because it’s always fascinating to see how they each work their live setup, which are incredibly varied. Also: interpretive dance.”-Mark

What would be the craziest coolest act you could imagine?

“I’d love to see a Mindless Self Indulgence cover band, that performs only in their underwear”-Mati

“Something with streamers and balloons and trapezes and magic. Like if Harry Potter was riding a unicycle. With balloons.”-Clare

“A domesticated penguin improv jazz ensemble.”-Mark

Anything else you want us to know about IGNITE this year?

“Come to auditions, come to our shows, stalk our website, stalk us!”-Mati

“Just that it’s going to be super rad! I’m getting really excited — last year’s festival was great, but this year’s is going to be EVEN BETTER.”-Clare

It’s going to be rowdy. Wear protective sunscreen and make sure you have an alibi.”-Mark

To sign up for your audition, email auditions@igniteyouthfest.ca by February 24. Auditions will be held March 8 and 9 at the Russian Hall. Can’t wait to see you there!