Hello everyone and welcome back to Friday’s Choice. Today I am going to be talking about a play that I watched on Tuesday evening, Windows 21.
Some information about this piece.
This play is a product of the collaboration between the Abbey theatre, and Fighting Words. The Abbey theatre is steeped in history and it has always been a place that showcases creativity and engages with ambitious and courageous storytelling that is aimed towards everyone in Irish society and Fighting Words aims to help children, young people, and adults to unlock the power of their imaginations through writing and with the help of mentors, anyone who wants to can learn how to thrive, and use their voices to become the person they want to be.
As someone who will always talk about the benefits of taking drama classes and why I believe it is so important that literature should be accessible to anyone who wishes to access it, I think that the work done at the Abbey and at Fighting words is truly admirable. For the past ten years, the Abbey theatre and Fighting Words have collaborated and every year, plays that have been written by teenagers and developed at Fighting Words have been professionally performed on the Abbey stage.
More information about the Abbey theatre and Fighting Words can be found online, on their respective websites and I would encourage anyone who enjoys the arts to go and check it out because the work they do is incredible and I especially love seeing the creativity of young people being explored and given a platform onstage. This year, the play Windows 21 premiered on YouTube, so on Tuesday evening I had the pleasure of enjoying a night at the theatre in my own home (although I am looking forward to the day I actually go into a theatre again, but that is for a different blog post – some exciting shows are coming up!).
This is not a review, it is more of a discussion because I think that the piece that I watched on Tuesday evening truly deserves to be talked about. I took many notes.
Windows 21 was written by Michael Lavery, Ray McHallem, Louí Montague, Aisling Murphy, Emily Murray Nelson, Èadaoin O’Neill, Joe Reidy, and Selina Xu, and it was directed by Jeda de Brí.
Juliette Crosbie, Esther Ayo James, Holly Hannaway, Clinton Liberty, Matthew Malone, and Katie McCann made up the wonderful cast.
This play gave audiences a look into young people’s lives as they faced a global pandemic, and it was funny, honest, emotional and incredibly relevant.
As an audience member, I think the title Windows 21 is extremely fitting as I would say that this play gave the audience windows into the lives of different young people, and we saw snippets of the realities faced by many different young people. This play was only an hour and twenty minutes long and yet it touched on so many things, the impact of lockdown, all the things that people missed out on, the excitement we first felt when we heard we were all getting two weeks off from school and college, to the sudden realisation that we would rather go to school and face bullies then be in this situation. This play touched on the mental health of teenagers, and how they are dealing with anxiety and depression, not just because of the pandemic but also because of all the other things they face, the fear of failing, the thoughts of wondering what the hell am I doing? Will everything be ok? Will I ever find love? What does love mean? The fact that time and days and everything seemed to lose it’s meaning in quarantine, the fact that people felt disorientated and isolated, and not only that, but this play also touched on the constant positivity that is Instagram culture and the need that young people can feel to look perfect all of the time. This play touched on victim blaming and consent, it touched on adults struggling to talk to their teenagers about their mental health, it touched on trials and tribulations with friends and how that seems so important at the time but it too shall pass and mostly, this play touched on hope. The idea that life will go on and connections will be remade, and this is a time that we will always remember.
I took so many notes while watching this performance and I even teared up on one occasion. It was so refreshingly honest and touching, and I loved that a voice was given to the younger generation to express how they felt throughout this extremely trying time. I am a big believer in the notion that we can always learn from those who are younger than us, and as someone who turned twenty one in lockdown and had to finish my final college year alone at home, it was brilliant to have some of my own worries represented and validated onstage and it was also brilliant to see the worries of those who are even younger than me, those who are still in secondary school be represented onstage too and I learned a lot.
To sum up this Friday’s Choice, all I can say is I think it is fantastic that this performance was available for viewing on YouTube and I would encourage anyone to go and watch it while they still can. I am so glad that I took the time to sit down and watch this play because I was left feeling so impressed by these writers and actors and everyone who was involved who made this performance happen. It truly is a testament of the wonderful things that young people can do. I think it should also be said that most of the work for this piece was done over Zoom which could not have been easy so it really does just go to show what can be done when people work together. The past year has been a really trying time and many people have struggled and suffered and it was very touching to see all of those realties represented onstage.
I think one of the best things anyone can do is to remember to think creatively, and always be open to wonder. So, that has been my Friday’s Choice. I hope you enjoyed my thoughts about the wonderful Windows 21.