The It; Credit: Otilia Dragan/

The fourth edition of the Festival of English-Language School Theatre (FEST) kicked off on the evening of Friday 23 February 2024 at the Rotondes in Luxembourg-Bonnevoie.

FEST started in 2018 and takes place every second year. This year's festival (FEST24) brought together about 80 students from nine schools across the Grand Duchy to perform a programme of nine one-act shows over two days.

Danial Shaikh, representing the British Embassy in Luxembourg, held an opening speech, welcoming the US Ambassador, Tom Barrett, as well as Tony Kingston and his team, the FEST committee members. He noted that the lead-up to FEST was quite challenging, specifically as the workshops planned fell on the days with a snow and ice red alert. He congratulated the teams for their hard work and emphasised that the accomplishments are all the more impressive knowing that, for many of the students, English is not their first language.

On behalf of FEST Asbl and the committee, Tony Kingston thanked the FEST partners for backing the event and their work over the last six years. He also expressed gratitude at having been able to hold this year’s event at the Rotondes, a “really fitting venue”. He highlighted that FEST is really about the students – that it was started to bring various national schools together, in order to help students who care about theatre find each other.

Mira Zwank, a student actress from the Michel Rodange theatre group, now in her final year of secondary school, discussed the importance drama classes had for her. She mentioned she never would have guessed the major positive impact theatre would have on her life, helping her break out of a cycle of shyness and awkwardness. Now she is involved in politics and organises events at school. She also noted that other students like her benefit from many other advantages of drama lessons such as improved English skills or even simply having an emotional outlet.

Two plays took place on the evening, The Audition and The It.

The first play, the Audition by Don Zolidis and performed by students from the European School in Mamer, introduced several different characters, some funny, some heartwrenching. They are all supposed to be auditioning but their own stories enter the show and their individual personalities and storylines also get a moment in the spotlight. As the audition is for a musical, there is singing and dancing involved as well as some little surprises along the way (both light-hearted and of a more sombre kind).

The second play was called The It, written by Vivienne Franzmann and performed by students from the International School in Luxembourg (ISL). It featured a school community reacting to a mysterious change occurring in an otherwise normal student: Grace. Her behaviour changes completely as something otherworldly seems to grow inside of her, causing her much pain. Everyone around her is at a loss and does not understand it...unless perhaps some of them know It too?

FEST continues on Saturday 24 February 2024 with seven more plays performed by theatre groups from various Luxembourg schools.