TakeOver Festival: Focusing on the Climate Crisis

We talked to Rachel Flannagan, the artistic director of this year's award-winning TakeOver at York Theatre Royal about the focus of this year's festival: the climate crisis.

Photo by Kirkpatrick Photography

Tell us about the festival. What is its history?

TakeOver is an annual theatre and arts festival run by young people. York Theatre Royal let us take over for the week and have an authentic experience curating, marketing and managing a festival. It’s been going for ten years and some really cool people have emerged from it such as Charlotte Bennett (joint Artistic Director of Paines Plough).

Every year the festival focuses on a different theme. This year it was decided that TakeOver’s 10th birthday should focus on the climate crisis and that we should aim to make the festival as environmentally sustainable as we can.

TakeOver exists to give those aged 12 to 26 a hands on experience in the theatre industry. It provides access to those who may not have any direct theatre experience and is a way of educating us about how the theatre is run. With the guidance and support of the York Theatre Royal staff, Takeover really gives young people the opportunity to put their mark on the festival and be at the heart of its creation.

Photo by Kirkpatrick Photography

What work does the festival programme?

Every year TakeOver gets a new senior team. So the work really changes depending on what the new team come up with. This is what is so exciting. Each set of young people get to put their own stamp on TakeOver and present to the community what they think should be seen. I think at a time where the arts are becoming more inaccessible, it’s important to support young people to develop opinions, preferences and be excited about theatre in our own way.

This year we’ve got a range of performances and lots to do. We’ve got Colla Voce bringing their new 5* show 'You and I' to the main house and Sleepless Theatre performing their new show 'Baby Box'. There is lots for families and children to do, whether that be workshops or family-orientated theatre. We’ve got a workshop from Silent Uproar, which we hope will provide some skills for young theatre makers in York.

Finally, towards the end of the week we’ve got three comedians and a drag cabaret! We’ve also worked really hard to make the festival a fun and welcoming atmosphere. So there will be all sorts to do or look at in the foyer at York Theatre Royal. We hope that people enjoy just being around the festival buzz.

Photo by Kirkpatrick Photography

What measures have been made to make the festival more environmentally sustainable?

We broke this down into two categories: we thought about what the TakeOver team can do to create the festival in the most environmentally sustainable way, and we thought about what changes can be made at the York Theatre Royal during the week.

First of all we are trying to print as little as possible. We have not printed any flyers, and when we have had to use print we’ve limited the amount and made sure it is easily recyclable. For example, our festival brochures are printed carbon neutrally on uncoated paper, to have minimal impact on the environment.

To transform the foyer into the hub of the festival, our designer is using material recycled or already owned by the theatre. We are resisting buying anything new. For the week, the kitchen team at York Theatre Royal are creating a completely vegetarian menu, which will hopefully influence decisions after the festival.

We’re learning a lot through the process of making this festival sustainable. We are by no means making the perfect carbon neutral event, but we are trying as best as we can to educate ourselves, York theatre Royal staff and the people of York.

Photo by Kirkpatrick Photography

What can other festivals do to be more eco-friendly?

Think about how necessary print really is and plan how and where you’re are going to use it. Spread the message to the companies and performers and encourage them to be environmentally sustainable.

Find out more about TakeOver Festival:

TakeOver is taking place at York Theatre Royal from Monday 28th October to Saturday 2nd November 2019. Find out more here.

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