Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Challenging yet exciting

Serene Leong writes:
Serene Leong
Heading to my first event at The New Headingley Club, I was mixed with emotions of excitement, anxiety and nervousness. That was the first time I was meeting the literature and arts lovers of the Headingley LitFest community. 

I checked the bus timings again and made sure I wouldn't be late for the show. Within minutes of getting there, I was greeted with smiley faces and was immediately welcomed by the committee. I helped out with leaflets, feedback forms, collected tickets by the door and even got the chance to talk to the director and actors! 

Throughout the next month, I attended various events and got to know people and listen to their stories. Working with the committee was challenging yet exciting. I was given freedom to organise my work schedule and voice out my opinions for input. Headingley LitFest is made up of volunteers passionate for the arts and promoting it within their community. This small and intimate setting allowed me to realise my potential for initiatives and at the same time starting up something on my own, the LitFest Instagram.  

I am grateful for this opportunity to work with a group of talented and dedicated individuals. I made friends and I experienced new things. I’ve been to Headingley before, but Headingley LitFest brought me to places I didn’t know existed. Thank you for welcoming me into the Headingley LitFest community with loving arms. It’s been a fun ride and I can’t wait to get involved next year again!

(Serene was our student intern this year)

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Thinking about next year already...

Dates for the next LitFest are 7 - 23 March 2016, but there will be 'Between the Lines' events before then. 

The theme will be INTRIGUES.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Poetry at Ralph Thoresby

Sally Bavage writes:
Thanks to funding from the Outer North West area management committee of Leeds City Council, managed by Headingley LitFest, a poetry ‘slam’ was held at Ralph Thoresby on the last evening of term.  The audience of 100+ clapped, whooped and hollered as young people bared their souls in original words both spoken and sung.  And two dance teams from the school left us even more impressed with the energy and talent that today’s youngsters can generate. 

The audience comments at the end of this report tell most of the story: the quotes that follow are those of the young poets themselves when interviewed just before the performance began.

I got experience of performing in settings with proper audiences; it was a chance to get involved.

You mingle with other talented people, especially those from Leeds City Academy.

We get real feedback from other students and our teachers.

Slamming – so enjoyed it!

I have really enjoyed the workshops, as they focused on different things each session.  I have gained good skills in writing poetry.

It was fun!  Everyone got really involved.

“Teamwork”  I made a good group of friends, so easier to perform in front of each audience.

It boosted my confidence and I now can read out poetry to an audience without feeling too shy.

[Michelle] made me feel like a proper writer.

It helped improve my confidence and writing skills – and I have noticed this in other subjects too.

No-one had a bad word for anyone in the group, so refreshing.  Michelle was really inspiring.

The workshops were well designed as we gave feedback to each other each week.

We all got on really well, and I made a new group of friends.  All of us have started writing and/or reading for pleasure now; it wasn’t like that before.

It was a ‘safe’ zone where you could work with different year groups to share a love of creative writing that wasn’t frowned upon.

And, not least, headteacher Will Carr commented that “this sort of work is vital.  It offers an opportunity for self-expression in a safe environment to children of all abilities. Writing and creativity just for fun – so different from much of what children get offered at this age.  It is recognised by Ofsted  that enhancement opportunities such as this offer students a chance to create an ethos where it’s OK to be creative and excel at literary pursuits.  It gives them a chance to explore their leadership qualities too."

As Michelle said at the start of the evening: “We expect children to be soooo much, so many things.  Writing introspectively can help them find themselves.” 
Many poetic themes were covered: loneliness, nature (even mud), bullying, happiness, shadows and the monsters that hide there, letters to younger selves or daughters of the future, explanations of dark events, even the flirting of middle-aged women.  A real mix of emotions, genres, rhythms and ideas.  Something Else indeed.

Thanks to the young poets involved: Alex, Amber, Emma B, Emma R, Casey, Daniel, Faye, Freya, Hannah, Mya, Nida, Lucas, Lucy and Una. 

Thanks too to the skilful and mesmerising dancers Alice, Becky and Freya from year 11, and the body-popping ‘Rough Diamonds’ new group from year 7 as well as Megan and Phoebe who volunteered to organise and sell refreshments in the interval.

Thanks for the easy jazz riffs and funky tones are also due to two young musicians, Tom and Owen – one of whom said that it had been “just the best night, just fantastic.”  The audience felt the same way too, as you can read below.

And, of course, what wonderful leadership from young Nida as mentor and compere for the evening, Michelle Scally Clarke (poet, performance coach, writer and director) herself, with Stella Litras on keyboards to accompany the singers. Other staff were there to give their technical and moral support, a lovely thing on the evening at the end of a very long term.

Especial thanks to English teacher Kate Wolstenholme who made the poetry flow.  Really a team effort, this time the words unspoken in the body language of the young people who inhabited the stage with such professional aplomb. Final word to the headteacher: “Wow.  Amazing, inspiring, uplifting, extraordinary. Wish I had been able to do that at their age!”  So where might it lead our performers?  Poet Laureate indeed.

The poems that were read were titled:  I talk Back, To My Five year Old Self, Mud, Beautiful, Octopus Revolution, Moss on the Rocks, Watching Grass Grow, Hand in Hand, It's Over, I Just Thought That You Should Know, My Home, Advice to My Daughter, Daughter of the Railway, ... and That's What the Life Sentence is For.

Audience comments:

                                                   Photo:  Sally Bavage
Showcasing new talent with plenty of ability.  A very good production with a nice warm compere.  Excellent.  Let’s do it again!

An excellent event, representing a really good selection of emerging and established talent.  It was a very inspirational set of performers to see!

Fantastic, very enjoyable – tremendous talent

My son is writing and performing poetry which is something I did not think would ever happen!  I am 100% certain it is down to the incredible inspiration that the writing group has provided along with tireless energy, hard work and support from his English teacher and the visiting author.  Thank you so much for helping him to find his voice and progress into owning it.

Very good entertaining evening

Fantastic allowing the children to express their thoughts

Really high standard of talent and creativity

We liked Nida because she was confident, spoke clearly and showed emotion when saying her amazing poem

Great to see children enjoying these things, being encouraged to express themselves and have the confidence to do it

Really enjoyed the evening

Fantastic show.

It was great to see all the kids’ work and creativity and for them to have this chance to perform their work.  Thank you!

This was a brilliant show of talent – keep it up.

Great platform to showcase young creativity and talent

Fantastic evening, showcasing Ralph Thoresby’s talented hard-working students.  Thank you.

Great venue.  Really nice to see the kids grow in confidence.

First half = AMAZING.  Second half = EVEN MORE AMAZING!!!

What a wonderful opportunity and delight to experience.  Thank you.

Again, fantastic.  What great talent.

Very very enjoyable.  Recommend everyone to see it.

I really liked Tom and Owen’s music. I also liked Stella’s music.  I really enjoyed tonight.