“Your news is bad news,” proclaim a group of primary school children. They’re fed up with grown-up news – it’s boring, depressing and fixated with Brexit. They’re going to show us how it should be done.
Theatremakers Andy Field and Beckie Darlington worked with a group of children from Norwich Primary Academy to create their own news show for the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. In it, they explore the issues that interest them most: climate change, community, poverty and the growing use of food banks. The results are performed live on stage and broadcast online.
As a warm-up, the children interview members of the audience – “are you happy?”, “do you always tell the truth?” A floor manger with a megaphone keeps order. All 10 children wear serious specs, white shirts and ties. When the broadcast gets underway, two newsreaders introduce pre-recorded segments in which the kids grill local councillors and talk to climate change scientists. Their disarming style generates some interesting – and honest – responses. Again and again they ask: “why?”
To say this feels more like an ambitious school project than a piece of theatre is in no way to dismiss it. The influence of activist Greta Thunberg is evident. The care and passion with which the children approach their chosen subjects is impressive, and the show is a potent reminder that decisions are being made on their behalf every day, that it’s their future people are playing with. There are lessons to be learned here.