An update on Fly the Flag

5th September, 2022
Fly The Flag – a UK-wide collaboration between arts organisations and human rights charities – returns this year, focusing on Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR): the right to protest. Fly The Flag is a unique project in many ways. The groups of young people in every nation work with an associate artist to have their say, express their opinions and to co-create work in response to the article.  

This year the work is led by Graeae CEO and Fuel theatre board member Jenny Sealey OBE alongside associate artists Saffy Sethoy, Rahim El Habachi and Fionnnuala Kennedy, and partners at National Theatre in London, National Theatre Scotland, National Theatre Wales and The MAC Belfast. A film incorporating performances from each organisation will be produced by award-winning filmmaker Bim Ajadi and broadcast later this year on Human Rights Day (the 10th of December). 

The young people are an essential part of the artistic process and the project relies on their artistic voice. This summer has seen the Fly The Flag team visiting locations across the UK, working under the expert eye of Bim Ajadi, to capture footage of the young people’s responses.  

Our travels started at the National Theatre in London where, on a bright and sunny Sunday in July filming took place in and around the Dorfman, led by Nickie Miles-Wildin. The young people carried placards and their enthusiasm and passion for the project was contagious as they spoke loudly on the South Bank.  

In Glasgow, this July/August weather took a turn for the worse, but spirits remained high at the National Theatre of Scotland where Saffy Setohy and Joanna Young created a theatrical performance alongside pupils from St Teresa’s Primary School. Fly the Flag is their first collaboration as part of NTS’s Neighbourhood Project, a series of artistic residencies which will see them working alongside the communities surrounding their Rockvilla HQ. 

Glasgow_FTF_Behind the scenes

Our visit to Belfast started at The MAC. The August weather was unpredictable, but nevertheless we persisted and ventured out defiantly out into the streets of the city. We visited a variety of locations, from Union Square and Writers Square, to the mural of the late journalist Lyra McKee. The young people held placards featuring newspaper clippings about the demonisation of refugees and asylum seekers. They proudly waved a rainbow flag, a timely gesture given the recent news that a Belfast-based drag queen faced a hoard of anti-LGBT protesters at an event held at The MAC.

Belfast_FTF_Behind the scenesPembrokeshire in Wales was the last of the film locations. In contrast to the previous urban locations, the response to Article 20 from our Welsh cohort primarily leaned into conversations around the environment, climate justice and housing inequity. Here, the young people engaged with the setting to illustrate the cause that meant something to them, whether it be planting a native tree in a woodland or collecting litter on a beach.

Wales_FTF_Behind the scenes

As you can see, it’s been a busy summer for the Fly The Flag team! There’s lots more to come, so please keep an eye on our website and social media for the latest news. We can’t wait to share the film with you later this year.  

Collaboration, being one of Fuel’s core values, is at the heart of the project. Our partners and co-producers on Fly The Flag include Amnesty International, Donmar Warehouse, Sadlers Wells, Liberty, Human Rights Watch and TATE. 

The city is steeped in the history of the Troubles. Lines from the script, such as ‘Enough is enough’. The future is in our hands. Be the change we need to be today’, spoken in proximity to murals emblazoned with political slogans, remind us of the urgency of this project and the responsibility we all have to speak up for a better tomorrow.”
- Excerpt from Fuel’s blog