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Petra Tauscher and Chiyana Ankhrah - FUSE International Interview

FUSE International provides a platform to share and celebrate creative talent. A host of talented artists from across the UK and around the world come together in Kingston every summer to showcase their work. 

The festival replaces the International Youth Arts Festival (IYAF) which has taken place each summer since 2009. Over 80 events across film, music, theatre, visual arts and more take place over the ten days of the festival which is curated and presented by charity Creative Youth. 

Tinderbox Orchestra

Ahead of the festival running from 30th June until 9th July I speak with festival Director Petra Tauscher and one of the young people involved in programming it, Festival Co-ordinator Chiyana Ankhrah.

Can you tell me a little more about FUSE International festival?
FUSE International is a multi-arts festival and celebration of live performance, connection and skills sharing. Founded in 2009, the festival started its life as International Youth Arts Festival before being rebranded to FUSE International in 2022, but the focus has remained clear throughout: to champion and showcase work for and by artists under 27. Delivered by Creative Youth charity, the festival also provides opportunities for young people to get involved in every aspect of festival planning; from programming, to gaining their first experience stage managing, there is a supportive environment for everyone to learn new skills.
How do you approach shaping a lineup of artists for the festival?
Chiyana: Before we come up with a lineup or programme, we go through applications that artists have submitted. This is particularly interesting as we often get a very dynamic range of artists from various disciplines, and I often found myself learning something new as I went through each application. Going through the applications helps to inform our decision about which venue suits which artist and which shows flow nicely together on a certain day and throughout the 10 days. We try to do this in a way that benefits and supports both the performers and the audiences we get coming down to the festival to make sure that everyone has a fantastic time during FUSE International.
The festival reaches its 15th year this year, what have been your highlights from your involvement with the festival?
Petra: We have had some extraordinary large and small scale theatre from all over the world . Last year we had breathtaking acrobatic and contemporary circus from Ethiopia. I will never forget the cheering and shrieking of the kids at our school's performance. I thought the Rose Theatre roof may come off! After the Covid restrictions which had limited international travel and audience numbers in the auditorium, that day was a real highlight.

How rewarding is it for you seeing the work of young artists playing to audiences?
Petra: Supporting young artists making their early steps into the industry is everything FUSE International and Creative Youth is about. We have some young companies who return each year and we love seeing how the work evolves and grows in confidence.
What do you want an audience member to take away from seeing attending the festival? 
Petra: The undeniable joy of experiencing live performance in the company of others and the importance of staying curious and challenging oneself as an audience member. 
What performances or shows have inspired you? 
Petra: I love dance theatre and have been lucky enough to have seen some extraordinary international productions which crosses the art forms between dance, theatre and music. Companies like Peeping Tom, Alain Platel, Pina Bausch.
What does theatre mean to you? 
Petra: It is one of the most ancient art forms and with all our newfound technology it could have died out decades ago. But the human communal experience is very powerful. We still want to sit together, think, laugh and be emotionally engaged as a group rather than alone. It is in our DNA.
Can you describe the festival in 3 words? 
Bold, Challenging, Fun

FUSE International Festival runs from Friday 30th June until Sunday 9th July 2023. Full details of events can be found at

Queen of the East

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