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Dundee Rep Young Company Presents the Show about Being Young and Having Hope


Dundee Rep Young Company is extremely excited to present its first live theatre production – OPTIMISM. Directed by Jess Thorpe and Tashi Gore, Dundee Rep’s Associate Directors, the Young Company devised the show based on the Company members’ personal experiences.

Perfectly capturing the zeitgeist of the times and exploring themes such as the global pandemic, Brexit, social media, financial crisis – and their impact on young people’s mental health – OPTIMISM offers a different perspective on our collective future to the one dominating media, one that is full of hope, despite the odds. It is about young people refusing to accept the bleak status quo and their own ideas for how to improve it.

OPTIMISM is set to be not only an important contribution to the vibrant UK theatre scene but also a vital platform for young people in Scotland to express their ideas and preoccupations, being a voice of a generation – strong, creative, challenging and funny.

The show is also significant in that it is the first time that Jess Thorpe and Tashi Gore will present a live show since they joined the creative leadership at Dundee Rep and Scottish Dance Theatre two years ago. Prior to arriving at the Company, the pair were founders and co-directors of the award winning Scottish young company Junction 25 – winners of the acclaimed CATS Whiskers Award for an outstanding achievement in pioneering and high-quality work by young people.

“Hailed as one of the finest in the UK, and it’s not difficult to see why”

– Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman, on Junction 25. We are excited to see what they bring to their collaboration with young people at Dundee Rep.

OPTIMISM has been devised and rehearsed over 20 weeks at Dundee Rep and will take over the venue’s main stage on 25 and 26 March, performed by the Rep Young Company which includes young people between 13 and 19 years old from all over Dundee: Katie Close, Sam Close, Ivor Morrison, Jacob Howett, Ben Watson, Sarah Gordon, Ella Matthews, Lilly Kerr, Travis Dempster, Poppy Paige, Milly Bairstow, Robin Van Der Kuyl, Rosina Hall, Belle Hunter, Alex Hancock, Arwen Starkey, Levana Starkey, Molly Scott, Liam Jones, Sophia Coffey Sylvester, Duncan Stewart.

Jess Thorpe, Associate Director at Dundee Rep said: “We are delighted to be making live theatre again and to be working on what feels like such an important collaboration with young people in Dundee. The idea for the show came directly from their concerns, perspectives and their experiences of the world they are living it right now. We have really appreciated their bravery and bold approach to making new work and we can’t wait to see them share it with audiences in Dundee.”

Ella Matthews (16), Performer, said: “OPTIMISM is a show about what it’s like to be young from the perspective of the people living through it. But, instead of expressing only our frustrations and despair, it focuses on our hope for a better future and our desire to create a world where everyone can thrive. The show also reveals a certain vulnerability that many young people, including myself, feel. A vulnerability where you have a lot of questions that need answers and a lot of things you want to change, and even though you don’t necessarily know how to do it, you don’t want to give up trying.”

Belle Hunter (17), Performer, said: “This is a show about hope and about change – what we as a group and as individuals worry about. We want you to come and see it because it’s an opportunity to hear and see what young people think and feel and how big ideas like social media and climate change affect our lives everyday.”

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