Hundreds of students change the world via theatre

On Tuesday 17 May, the 2022 FEDA event kicks off. CN&CO and our partners EasyEquities and iTOO are proud supporters of the festival – believing that art can, and must, help make our world a better place. And supporting young talent is a privilege all corporates must take advantage of. In this blog, Amy Sandilands from FEDA tells us why the event is so important ….

Just a few days away from our grand opening, it feels almost surreal to be returning to the stage after two years of hardship, adjustment and being starved of cultural and social engagement. This pandemic has come with many lessons, but for FEDA the most important has been just how much we rely on artists; to make us laugh, to make us reflect, to allow us to digest the world around us, to bring us together.

I have never been scientifically inclined, but recently I have read about some developments in genetics that have had me questioning what it means to be human. From a biological and genetic perspective we are still so similar to the primate family – nearly 96% of our DNA is shared with the chimpanzee. This is information I have grown up with all my life. It makes sense to me. However, apparently we (and our chimp cousins) have a genetic similarity of over 60% with bananas. Bananas. I certainly don’t have a good enough grasp of the science behind this to fully understand but I believe those who know (a lot) more than me. For so long humans have purported to be so removed from and superior to nature and other beings yet here is proof of how connected we are. I am sure this 4% (or 40%) accounts for why humans are so much more advanced but at an abstract level, without using data and percentages,  our affinity for creativity, imagination, curiosity differentiate us in some kind of fundamental way and it results in art. Art makes us human, it can plant a small seed to make us think more deeply and feel more honestly and in the same breath it can be so powerful and loud that it begins revolutions and shifts the status quo.

This is the kind of brave work that we have become accustomed to at FEDA. Our stage has welcomed conversations about toxic masculinity, fees must fall, pervasive racism, trans rights, bullying and so many more. And we as the audience see these issues come to life through the eyes of our youth, our future.

As a previous FEDA actress and director, I know how the FEDA process helped me find myself, to develop my voice, to decide how I wanted to engage with the world. It was one of the highlights of my high school career and such a formative experience. Now I am on the other side of the fourth wall, an audience member who is not privy to the hours of work, laughs and tears that go into a production. Just the final product; and what a privilege to be able to explore our world through these students’ eyes.

I think the FEDA space is such a rewarding one for everyone involved, creators and audience members alike; and so much work, energy and passion has gone into ensuring it has survived COVID. This would absolutely not have been possible without the support of our amazing sponsors. EasyEquities and iToo Solutions have been this one small festival’s guardian angels. They have introduced us to this wonderful kind of reciprocity whereby this space has been supported and protected.

For a long time, I saw the artistic and corporate worlds to be fundamentally different. This was really quite a naïve understanding of the world (oops). But of course, entrepreneurs and artists share fundamental qualities: creativity, courage, individuality. Ajaz Ahmed sums up their similarity beautifully in his article for The Guardian: “Art and entrepreneurialism are two expressions of one shared desire: to leave the world a little different than you found it.” Our sponsors have certainly left their mark on the FEDA community in more ways than one. The Easy-FEDA-iToo synergy has catapulted the festival into a new dimension; creating a festival that can survive a pandemic which alienated live performance, that inspires students from all over the country, and that draws an audience that is hungry for more.

We open our curtains on the 17th of May and are buzzing with excitement. To our audience: we welcome you, to our sponsors: we thank you, and most importantly, to our casts and crew: we can’t wait to see you! Break a leg!