How We Got Here

The History of Young and Hungry


The Early Days

Young and Hungry was founded in 1993 by Guy Boyce, who was head of BATS Theatre at that time, who saw a need to provide young people, aged 15-25 years, with opportunities to gain hands-on theatre experience within a professional structure.

In 1994 the inaugural Young and Hungry Festival of New Works was produced by Conrad Newport.  The festival was billed as a professional production for 16-24 year old actors with professional directors, writers and designers. The rehearsal period was three weeks, in addition to a production week and the performance season.

Three years later, Young and Hungry was established as a Charitable Trust with founding Trustees Katherine Joyce, Tony Kellaway and Martin Rodgers.

Initially there were two core annual programmes: the Festival of New Works (which was later renamed the Festival of New Theatre) and the Playwrights’ Initiative.  Katherine Joyce took on the role of coordinator and pushed the organisation to offer a wider range of services for New Zealand’s emerging talent.

During the summers of 1997 and 1998 Young and Hungry facilitated workshops, which acted as a stepping-stone for young people wanting to participate in the Festival of New Theatre.  Through these workshops Young and Hungry’s innovative mentorship programme began to take form.



The New Decade

Young and Hungry kicked off 2000 by collaborating with the Fringe Arts Trust on the “Appetite for Production” initiative.  This initiative provided Young and Hungry graduate productions with the opportunity to present in a Fringe season.  The two productions selected were Awesome Foursome by Bevin Linkhorn and Between by Helen Varley-Jameson.  Both scripts were performed and crewed by past Young and Hungry participants under the mentorship of professional directors and theatre practitioners.

In 2001, Young and Hungry formalised its mentorship programme by fully integrating it into the rehearsal and production processes of the Festival season.  The rehearsal period was extended from three to eight weeks, which created time for young performers to work on character development and technical crew to realise their designs. The production team was also expanded to include mentors in all areas such as: set design and construction, lighting, sound, costume design, stage management and publicity.

In 2003 Auckland Theatre Company’s Ambassadors’ Programme was adopted by Young and Hungry and added to its suite of programmes.  It quickly became a huge success; providing a valuable link with regional secondary schools, and enabling Young and Hungry to facilitate audience development and increase youth participation in the performing arts.

2009 marked the 15th anniversary and a historical development in the production of the Festival of New Theatre.  In collaboration with the Auckland Theatre Company, the Festival of New Theatre was presented for the first time at The Basement.  With simultaneous Festival seasons taking place in Wellington and Auckland, Young and Hungry moved one step closer to realising it goals to become a national organisation.

That year Young and Hungry also launched its new brand.  Massey University, in collaboration with Clemenger BDO, presented Massey graphics students with the opportunity to design a fresh new look for the Festival of New Theatre.  The winning logo and design was so well received that Young and Hungry adopted it as its official brand.

In 2010 Playmarket, with the support of Young and Hungry, published a collection of three Young and Hungry plays as one of its Play Series publications.  The three plays featured were originally commissioned through the Young and Hungry Playwrights’ Initiative and were first produced at BATS Theatre as part of the Festival of New Theatre.  Featured in this series are playwrights Pip Hall (Queen Bee – 1997), Lauren Jackson (Exchange – 2005) and Miria George (Urban Hymns – 2009).



The Future

With valuable support from Creative New Zealand and Wellington City Council, Young and Hungry has worked on developing its long-term strategic plan as well as redefining its mission statement and its future goals.  With plans in motion to expand the Festival of New Theatre to Christchurch and Dunedin, Young and Hungry is on it’s way to becoming a national movement.  Stay tuned!

Have you been a contributor or past participant with Young and Hungry?  Do you have any old or new stories about Young and Hungry that you’d like to share?  If so, then we want to hear from you!  Email us at [email protected]