First Bite Festival 2019: Take a Bite

Written by Andrea
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17th May 2019
A young woman sitting crossed leg on the floor, two other young women sit and lean against chairs behind her.

© Arnim Friess

For the first time, three young companies were chosen to perform new work alongside the First Bite artists as part of Take a Bite – a new initiative providing Midlands based 16-21 year olds with professional development opportunities within the UK arts scene.

We caught up with one of the company members from Derby Theatre – Theatre Makers; one of three Take a Bite companies who performed their piece ‘Generation Gap’; to see how they found the experience at our First Bite event at Derby Theatre.

On Friday 22nd March 2019, I was lucky enough to attend and take part in China Plate’s First Bite Festival at Derby Theatre. Specifically, I was involved in the ‘Take A Bite’ section of the festival as a member of the youth group, Theatre Makers, that is linked with Derby Theatre. My experience at the festival was incredibly positive, making me realise the benefits and lessons to learn about the process of professional theatre, and the real commitment and kindness shown by everyone working in the industry.

First Bite is a festival that gives upcoming theatre companies and developing performances the chance to be shown to a friendly, paying audience. The unique element of the festival lies in how at the end of each performance, there is an opportunity to write feedback of what people enjoyed, parts they connected with and also any constructive criticism to help the company’s progress their show.

All of the staff from China Plate were open and made all of the performers, including myself, feel very relaxed and excited for the night. The festival was organised well, and it was clear to see the passion that has gone into the development of its importance in the theatrical world. 


A group of young people performing, some stand, some are sitting on the floor.

© Arnim Friess

With Theatre Makers, we performed our scratch show which was based around ‘A Cure for Aging’ and what it means to grow old. We have been developing this basis since January 2019 with our director Laura Ryder. From the beginning until now, working alongside Laura has been an incredible experience, where I have learnt so much and gained a greater insight into the starting points of text and just how important movement is in any piece. We are taking our final performance to Derby Theatre’s Departure Lounge Festival in July 2019, and having had the chance to gain advice for further improvements from First Bite’s layout, I am eager to see how our show will develop!  

After performing our piece, we had the amazing opportunity of watching four diverse and inviting pieces of performance, ranging from all types of styles, genres and messages. ‘Chocolat’, performed by Rinkoo Barpaga, showed the starting points of a poignant message into racism in the deaf community through the physicality of clowning and sign language, which gave me the urge and inspiration to learn more about the subject myself. The next show was a brilliant one woman show by Georgie Jones called ‘…ish’, demonstrating the reality of growing up and all of the questions that go along with it. It was creative and entertaining, and many of the anecdotes mentioned connected with me greatly. Open Sky’s ‘The Disappearing Act’ again showed great potential as a piece and I was intrigued into the magical sense of meeting two previous versions of yourself, and what stories and feelings could occur from that.

Finally, we saw ‘Fashion Spies’ by Quick Duck Theatre, which engaged the whole audience.  It was an interactive experience into the devious world of stolen fashion pieces, and the people who are employed to retrieve them. They provided each audience member with their own spy names (I was agent Silver), goggles and colour indicators. It was a perfect, fun end to the evening! All of the scratch shows were innovative and completely unique, and I applaud all of the performers who put their all into what they were doing.  

Through doing First Bite Festival, I have been incredibly lucky to not only create a new piece myself alongside a great venue, director and fellow cast members, but also interact with an even wider range of industry professionals, and channel my hopes and desires in the future to consider all elements of theatre I hadn’t previously thought about. Through First Bite, China Plate invited performers and audience members to delve deeper into the inner workings of creating theatre, and I will use this experience to gain further theatrical techniques and perspectives on the art form. 

Thank you so much China Plate, Derby Theatre and First Bite Festival!

For more information about our projects with Midlands-based 16-21 year olds, please go to our Young People page. To find out more about First Bite Festival, please contact Rosie Kelly.

Photo: Derby Theatre – Theatre Makers performing Generation Gap