Artist Spotlight: Zest Theatre

31 October, 2021

A person stands on a hill in front of a portal-door with swirling blue and purple clouds around them.

Established in 2007, Zest Theatre is a national touring theatre company creating eye-opening work for young people. Delivering over 100 performances and reaching nearly 20,000 people annually, they tour to theatres, outdoor spaces and schools with a variety of interactive, immersive, site specific and promenade productions.

They place our audience right at the heart of the performance and their creative process, with work described as “unpretentious” (The Stage) and “invigorating” (The British Theatre Guide).

They have eclectic tastes and love creating bold new ideas–this means that there is no such thing as a ‘Zest Style’. While each of their shows is ultimately different, innovation, humour, empowerment, and accessibility will always be threaded through every show they produce, creating a DNA that is unmistakably Zest.

We asked Zest Theatre some questions around the themes of the festival this year…

What does the theme ‘Connection’ mean to you/your practice?

“Zest’s work is always intentional, there’s always a clear reason for creating a new piece of work like monolith. This is because our process is inherently connected to the voices of the young people we serve and driven by their thoughts, needs, and imaginations. We build inclusive communities around our work-making space to listen to young people, then amplifying their voices and ideas through the work we produce. Monolith was created from this place, from a clear callout from our young people to creatively support their mental wellness. It’s this authentic connection to our core audiences that I believe makes Zest’s work so unique.”

We are celebrating our 10 year anniversary, where were you 10 years ago (creatively speaking)?

“10 years ago, Zest was working on a much smaller, grass roots level. At that time, we were solely focussed on developing work across Lincolnshire’s schools and communities. But behind the scenes 2011 was creatively significant. This was the year I came up with a concept for a new show that would launch Zest onto the national touring circuit. That show was called Gatecrash. Today Zest is one of the nation’s leading companies making work for young people-Gatecrash is the show that made that happen. This is significant because Frequency Festival made that show possible. I spent 2 years trying to convince funders and commissioners to help us make the show, until Frequency commissioned Gatecrash for their 2013 festival! Zest took off from there. This is our first time back as part of the Frequency programme since then–we’re so pleased to be a part of this 10thAnniversary year. Thank you, Frequency!”

How do you hope the arts build back better after the pandemic?

“I hope we stay committed to the communities we’ve all supported over the pandemic–both those on our doorsteps, and those we’ve digitally connected to. I hope that, in our fight for survival, we don’t leave people behind. I just hope we don’t fall back into the same normal we had before–that we keep learning to be more inclusive, more accessible, more transparent, and more equitable.”


monolith is premiering at Frequency Festival 2021. Tickets are now sold out, but if you’ve booked your pass already it is available to use up to 30 November.

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