Young Writers’ Festival 2020
The Exchange Arts Centre - 23 March 2020
Arts Richmond at The Exchange, Twickenham
Review by Heather Moulson
Looking forward to a celebration of Richmond’s young writers’ showcase of poetry and prose, we had an effective introduction of bold and creative lighting, before being privileged to witness all this young talent at the Young Writers’ Festival 2020.
The Festival is the culmination of Arts Richmond’s annual Young Writers Competition in which school-age authors enter short pieces of literary work, prose or poetry, which are judged by a panel of experts, drawn from literary backgrounds. From over 650 entries, pieces of high quality of the writing, Young Writers’ Festival 2020 presented the six best pieces in each of four age-groups. From these nominations the finalists and winners in each age category were announced.
Read strongly by actors, Lauren Anthony, Victoria Morrison and AJ MacGillivray, this unique production, co-ordinated by The Stage Company, opened up with very vibrant work. An array of intriguing poems and prose pieces were read, starting with The Decider, a stunning account of fate hinging on five cards.
During readings, two of the actors became three, then two again. Then solo, then together, forming a dramatic and interesting tableau. Their rapport came over successfully, and they were clearly comfortable with each other.
The Curse of the Headteacher had us on the edge of our seats, likewise with the eerie Chapter 1: The Girl. Not only were these works striking prose, they were thrillers too! This standard of absorption was consistent with the poems Somewhere!, I Want to Sing!, The First Drop and The Sea. Keith Wait’s clever directing gave the actors elegant alternatives in reading.
The very poignant See Me As I Am, on receiving a diagnoses of Asperger’s Syndrome, was moving, and struck a chord in all of us. This touching piece counteracted with the hilarious There’s Something At The Bottom Of My Lunch Box. Both of these pieces were solo, and very appropriately done.
The beautiful Sad, When The Sun Didn’t Shine, and Viking Girl, concluded the first set of younger writers (Year 3 to Year 6).
After a warm reception from the Mayor, Cllr. Nancy Baldwin, Hilary Dodman, the Arts Richmond Chairman, supplied us with positive and encouraging feedback. Then the Mayor duly presented the awards and certificates to this exciting, young talent. These were: Seb Jones, Poppy Tawil Mukhida, Elliot Steven Indio Watts, Cassia Mavra, Georgia Rose Mackew, Mia Pomford, Megan Smith, Anna Wilkinson, Lola Grace Alge, Amelie Grandjean, Emily Hayman and Scarlett Monahan.
A second half of strong writing from the older section followed (Year 7 to Year 11), and we were not disappointed. Inside a Depressed Mind, Car Crash and For My Grandparents particularly left a strong impression; not to mention the very contemporary A Poem of Climate Disaster. However, these did not overshadow Requiem, Down Down Down nor The Fallen Ones. All accompanied by the strong direction, skilled projection and bold, detailed lighting. I Am Positivity, Something’s Fishy, Silence and March completed these amazing works. This rewarding production told us a lot about the younger generation. This section of deserving writers came to greet the Mayor and Hilary Dodman. These were: Anabelle Spasova, Simone de Almeida, Morag McCabe, Max Norman, Sophie Payton Conway, Celine Shekarsarai, Alice Lambert, Anna Magee, Lilla Radek, Aisha-Jane Harris, Eden Hartley and James Joseph Hunter.
Young Writers’ Festival was a fulfilling and inspiring experience, and I would urge everyone to go to next year’s presentation.
Photography by Joe Stockwell
The Younger Generation, Bold, Touching, Hilarious