The Festival of Shorts has been organised by Jonathan Lloyd, the new Artistic Director and CEO of Pegasus, which is showcasing plays by young writers aged 11 - 25 whose talents have have nurtured at the theatre

Young people are at the heart of Pegasus. Our projects showcase their ideas, their talents, their voices. I run the Writing for Performance group here, where young writers age 11 to 25 develop scripts that we stage at our Festival of Shorts evening each year.

I love this part of my job. The sessions are devised to give the writers the tools of their trade – eg plotting, characterisation, a sense of place. But what they write is entirely up to them. It’s an amazing insight into the minds and imaginations of young people. I’m constantly surprised, stretched and delighted by what they dream up.

The styles range from farce to heartfelt drama to magical realism. I’ve directed a lot of new plays in my career as a professional theatre director, but when I work with young writers I see the medium re-imagined, freshly minted, re-shaped to reflect the voices and concerns of a new generation.

Our Writing for Performance group have had sessions run by writers whose plays they have also seen here – for example, spoken word artist Sophie Rose or writer of Flintlock Theatre’s Don Q, Anna Glynn.

The plays for the Festival of Shorts will also feature professional actors alongside young performers from our in-house courses and companies, and will be given the full support of our own technical team. The writers are also encouraged to be part of our Young Reviewers group too and see professional shows here and at other venues in Oxford.

But this interweaving of the two strands of our work goes two ways. For example, we have recently been commissioned by Oxfordshire County Council to create a new play about self-harm to tour secondary schools in the county next spring.

As part of the development phase of this project, two of our young writers have acted as researchers on the subject, interviewing their peers to gain an insight in ways we as adults could not hope to. It’s been eye-opening and unsettling but it will undoubtedly make the work better. That’s why we work with young people. To empower, challenge and inspire them, yes, but much more often because they empower, challenge and inspire us.

This year’s Festival of Shorts is here at Pegasus on Sunday, October 25, 6.30pm.