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Once again, theatre invites us to cross borders. Once again, I am discovering what defines the theatre that so many of us believe in: the thirst for exchange.

Vamos que venimosSix years ago, that was how Vamos que Venimos first came to life: the first theatre festival for young people in the city of Buenos Aires, which aimed to create a space for boys and girls from different backgrounds who want to perform theatre through exchange. The festival was regional for its first two years, in the third it became nationwide, and then last year VQV went global, kick-starting an international network of education in theatre.

As the organizers of this festival, we are convinced that for us the project represents a type of theatrical membership. For the past six years’ team-work and self-management, I have learnt a great deal: I’m learning every second. People tend to ask us, why young people? Why don’t you take advantage of such a large organisation to work with professional companies? Why bring together the greatest artists in Argentine theatre so they can just give free conferences to teenagers? Why bother to bring the best teachers of our time to people who don’t even know who they are? Why would a theatre want to clear its schedule only to fill the gap left behind with a bunch of kids?

Why? My answer has to be that though we all like to talk about exchange and co-operation, are we, as artists, actually prepared for that? The teens who participate in the festival are between 13 and 19 years old. I am not a teenager anymore, but I am still young. And I can see how openness and confidence changes over the years. I can see how artists start to mistrust their own work, their ego takes hold of them, how they stop enjoying working with others. Young people teach me, every year, to put faith in exchange; that you grow when you watch your colleagues at work; that bringing a group together is an exciting challenge; that you have to take big risks; that you can’t just accept the tried-and-tested because yes, you have to keep pushing boundaries and, indeed, crossing borders.

The Vamos que Venimos programme offers around 20 shows produced by adolescents, conferences given by major artists, free intensive seminars, debating events between coordinators, directors and acting pedagogues, and exchange panels where young people can have their say. Applications for the cast of the 6th edition are open until 11th of June for groups worldwide. We’ll be waiting for you. Come on, cross over to Latin America and join our journey.

leila-VQV-firmaLeila Schmukler (Buenos Aires, Argentina) is an actress, theatre teacher and director. Vamos que Venimos is the Young People’s Theatre Festival that organizes the Grupo Crearte.

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