Journeys workshop civic hall

The start of a fabulous journey

I am delighted to be acting as the Children’s Events Coordinator once again for the Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival. Now in its seventh year, the festival is a big event in the town’s calendar and, I am proud to say, is now one of the most significant literary festivals in the UK. We have been busy putting together a great programme of events for our Schools Week, starting Monday 31st March, and so I’m busy on the phone sorting out bookings.

Joining us for sessions in local schools this year are Tony Bradman, Giles Paley-Philips, illustrators Korky Paul and Jane Ray, award-winning author Julia Golding, and the famously-bearded Philip Ardagh. And that’s not all. There are lots of other great events – and I will be taking part too, with storyteller Taffy Thomas, who is my co-author on the forthcoming WWI legends collection, The Ghost of the Trenches. If your school is local and you are interested in booking an event, do get in touch via the Contact page.

The festival is also holding a Children’s Day on Sunday 4th May at The Croft Prep School just outside Stratford. We have a fabulous line up, including the ukulele playing, performance poet Paul Cookson, Nicholas Allen, Tracey Corderoy, Nick Sharratt and Chris Bradford. Philip Ardagh will be back in Stratford again, to lead a session in which he will be joined by Gruffaloillustrator Axel Scheffler. Tickets are on sale now via the Festival website.

This year, the theme of the Literary Festival is Journeys, and I have also been helping to coordinate a special multi-arts project involving sixth form students from local schools. It all began with a storytelling workshop with Taffy Thomas, in which Taffy coached the students in the skills of storytelling and also taught them how to gather stories from others. We then took those students into two care homes, where they collected stories, memories and anecdotes from the elderly residents. The next step involved sharing those stories with drama students, musicians, visual artists and stage designers in an inspiring session at the Stratford Arts House (pictured) which was led by theatre director and writer, David Calcutt. Since then, I have been attending weekly workshops with the drama students at Stratford College who have been developing ideas for a Journeys performance to be staged at the Arts House on 4th April. Using all the ideas which have been pooled, David is now busy writing the final script and next week we hope to begin working on that with the students.

Meanwhile, other groups of students are working with other local professional artists to compose and perform the musical score for the performance, to design the staging and create the set, to create pieces of visual art whch will be exhibited at the performance, and to learn new technical threatre skills, including lighting and sound.

What an amazing project it’s turning out to be and what a fabulously talented group of students we have to work with. It’s already been a memorable journey and I can’t wait to see the final performance on 4th April. If you would like to come along and see the Journeys performance for yourself, you can book tickets online for just £5 each.

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