The year was 1993 and Guy Boyce (then head of BATS) commissioned four plays by young people and voilà, Y&H was born! The first Y&H Festival (the Y&H Festival of New Works) was staged the following year, with young professionals both acting and helming the production.
In 1997 Y&H was established as a charitable trust with Katherine Joyce, Tony Kellaway and Martin Rodgers as founding trustees. Y&H’s focus was based around a playwright commissioning and mentorship programme which fed into the festival (renamed the Festival of New Theatre), with work led and performed by young, emerging creatives.
Fast forward a few years and Y&H celebrated its first NZ Fringe Festival with two productions; Awesome Foursome by Bevin Linkhorn and Between by Helen Varley-Jamieson, both performed and crewed by Y&H participants.
The 2000’s saw Y&H spread its wings from windy Welly into the city of sails, collaborating with Auckland Theatre Company on their schools Ambassadors programme and taking the Festival of New Theatre to The Basement.
The Festival became an annual fixture and a firm favourite for Wellington high-school and tertiary students. Growing in strength year-by-year, it became part of the fabric of Wellington’s arts scene.
In 2003, we established the Y&H Ambassadors programme in Wellington, and Y&H also got published by Playmarket as part of its Play Series. Pip Hall (Queen Bee), Lauren Jackson (Exchange) and Miria George’s (Urban Hymns), work which had all been originally commissioned by Y&H for the Festival.
In 2016, Y&H took over the management of EnsembleImpact’s national schools tour. We began to tour New Zealand play extracts, performed by young upcoming actors, to secondary schools up and down the country under the Y&H Tours banner.
With the Y&H Tours now well and truly a fixture on the term 2 calendar and the schools Ambassador programme a firm Wellington favourite, Y&H is turning its attention to re-inventing the Festival of New Theatre (as Y&H Playful) and looking at ways to support the next generation of New Zealand actors and playwrights.