Proteus Theatre Company launches Generation Protopia podcast, shining the spotlight on the youth experience throughout the Covid Pandemic
– Generation Protopia is the show where tomorrow’s generation reject Dystopia, abandon Utopia, and instead embrace Protopia – a world where we take small steps to make today better than yesterday. –
In each episode a group of 17-18 year-old members of the Proteus Young Company discuss how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted their lives
. – The series covers, Arts and Culture, Life Under Lockdown, Equality and Diversity, Mental Health and Wellbeing, and Education and Work and concludes with ‘What Next’?
– With contributions from Proteus collaborators and associate artists including Umar Butt, Jessica Andrade and Danny Charles.
The initial concept behind the podcast presented itself when Lockdown arrived suddenly in early March and the Young Company – the most senior members of Proteus Youth group – had to cancel a production they had been working on and suspend their final term of the youth theatre. Several members were leaving Basingstoke to begin university so the group would be disbanded. They were keen to continue to create in a different medium and mark both the end of an era for them personally, but document this unique moment in their lives.
The youth theatre has provided a vital resource and safe space for this closely-bonded group of young people to share ideas, create, connect and grow over the years. Many of the members have been attending for 7-8 years and at Proteus we felt we had holistic responsibility to create a legacy to mark the end of their time with the Youth Theatre.
“Youth Theatre as a whole has had such an impact on my life since I started when I was 12 years old! I honestly believe that I wouldn’t be as confident in being myself and interacting with others as I am now if I hadn’t been coming.” – Jess Lake, Proteus Youth Theatre member and podcast contributor
With the support of funding from the D’Oyly Carte Foundation we were able to work with the group to create a series of podcasts discussing topics including equality and diversity, friendships and relationships, the impact on arts and culture, thoughts and fears around careers, work and inevitably the future, all through the unique lens of young people aged 16-18 during this time.
For this group, perhaps more than any other, all structures and future plans have been thrown wildly in the air. We felt this age bracket in particular had been left out of the conversations in mainstream media around the pandemic, despite the enormous impact on their generation.
The series has been produced and edited by BBC World Service journalist Jason Caffrey in association with Proteus. Reflecting on the experience Jason says: “It has been a real privilege to work with the Young Company members who contributed to the podcasts. Everybody has had their own unique experience of the pandemic and all it has brought with it, but it was enlightening and insightful to hear how their lives at such a formative time had been impacted by coronavirus. They are an impressive and articulate group who spoke frankly about the challenges that lie ahead and yet were very aware of the positive impact for change that they as individuals can make.”
The first three episodes of ‘Generation Protopia’ were released as part of a soft launch in conjunction with All in the Mind Festival – the UK’s largest mental health arts festival, created by Fluid Motion Theatre Company.
One of the common themes throughout the podcast conversations, was the hugely disruptive impact that the Coronovirus pandemic has had on every aspect of these young people’s lives, in particular on education and long-term work prospects and how the uncertainty at such a formative time was impacting their mental health. Within Episodes 1 (Education and Work), 2 (Mental Health and Wellbeing) and 3 (Lockdown Life) the group talk candidly and with real perspective about how this moment will ultimately shape their future depending on their response to it.
Episodes 4-6 are due for release over the next 3 weeks with the final episode(s) tackling the question of ‘what next’ as the contributors debate what may lie ahead. The Generation Protopia podcast series is a snapshot of a generation in crisis and yet puts into sharp focus a deep maturity and understanding of how every individual can have a positive impact on the future. To listen to the podcast please visit www.proteustheatre.com/podcast