Politics takes centre stage

September 15, 2006

A student theatre group is bringing politics to a new generation with a surprisingly traditional format.

Catch21 is a charitable production company set up and run by students from Hull University. The group will be organising question-and-answer sessions with key politicians and young people at all three major party conferences.

Alex Sergent, a fourth-year politics student at Hull, helps run the company part time and presents the shows with fellow student Avril Stone.

"We first held a straightforward political question-and-answer session in Hull with local student politicians, the student union president and the political editor of the Hull Daily Mail ," Mr Sergent said.

"We found that giving people a chance to answer properly, to contextualise their answers, really proved popular."

The students invited key politicians - with Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, appearing twice - in what have proved increasingly popular events.

Next week, both former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy and leadership contender Simon Hughes will appear at separate shows at the Lib Dem party conference in Brighton.

"We have invited sixthformers, further and higher education students as well as any interested young people and expect the sessions to touch on the Iraq War, climate change and proportional representation," Mr Sergent said.

Tessa Jowell, Culture Secretary, will appear at the event at the Labour Party conference in Manchester and Boris Johnson, Conservative Higher Education spokesman, is lined up for Bournemouth.

The theatre group is funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.

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