Youth play on hopes and fears
A cast of 16 and 17 year old first-time voters performed a play about their expectations for the referendum to an audience of MSPs.
The event coincided with the publication of new research by Edinburgh University which shows young voters are increasingly engaged in the independence debate.
‘Now’s the Hour’, which was devised by the performers, uses sketches, monologues and music to explore issues such as currency, borders and Trident, as well as looking at the future of Scotland. The cast includes teenagers from Fife, Orkney, Aberdeenshire, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Originally part of Scottish Youth Theatre’s summer festival last year, the show has been updated and was performed at the Scottish Parliament as part of an event which also included work from the National Theatre of Scotland and a panel debate with MSPs and artists.
The event was chaired by Highlands and Islands MSP and convenor of the Cross-Party Group on Culture, Jean Urquhart, who said they had witnessed “fantastic” performances. “We need more young voices in the independence debate,” she said. The play will also be performed at this summer’s Edinburgh Fringe festival.
SYT’s Chief Executive and Artistic Director, Mary McCluskey, said: “Being invited to the Parliament and taking part in the Fringe demonstrates the important role Scottish Youth Theatre has in unlocking the creative potential, confidence and development of children and young people right across Scotland, regardless of their background.”
The Edinburgh University study shows the proportion of people under 18 who would vote Yes in the independence referendum has increased in the past year, although it still trails those with no intentions 36 per cent to 64 per cent, once undecided voters are excluded. The report also suggests turnout among young voters is expected to be high, with a high proportion of teens engaged in debate, with 72 per cent of those eligible to vote saying they are ‘very’ or ‘rather likely’ to do so.
Dr Jan Eichhorn from the School of Social and Political Science, who coordinated the study, said: “Their high degree of interest and wide-ranging discussions shows young people are not apolitical. On the contrary, they engage with politics extensively if the issue is important and they think their vote matters.”
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