Three years of my life as an EU student of English Literature at the University of East Anglia,England.
During my second year of a BA in English Literature at UEA, I took a module in Shakespeare, despite knowing that I was never a big fan of theatre and knowing that I would struggle and be unable to appreciate Shakespeare’s ingenuity and playfulness to their full extent. However, I think that this year’s UEA FLY Festival might have reconciled me with Shakespeare and drama for good!
This year’s programme for the Literary Festival for Young People is, once more, excellent, putting the emphasis on drama. Going through the programme soon after starting a traineeship at FLY, Debs Newbold’s retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear caught my attention. I was intrigued by the promise of an epic, uplifting and unusual performance of a play that had intimated me so much at university. I have not seen Debs Newbold’s performance yet but there is no doubt it will be excellent and will reconcile me with Shakespeare and drama: this performance promises to give life to Shakespeare’s characters and language. Her modern adaptation of this classic brilliantly allies the new and the old, blending Shakespearian and twenty-first-century language, and the ancient oral tradition and contemporary conventions (a one woman show).
We are creatures of storytelling. Since the beginning of our lives, we tell ourselves stories, no matter how close or far from reality. Our parents and other media such as books and films tell us stories to teach us moral lessons. It makes perfect sense that Debs Newbold is coming back to FLY and contributes to its success again, through storytelling. Moreover, her modern adaptation is a perfect way to introduce young people and people of all ages to Shakespeare’s complexity while still finding it entertaining! It encourages us to question what makes theatre and stories work: is it the actors and tellers, the character, the language, or perhaps how well the stories are written? To explore these questions and help budding writers and young literature enthusiasts, FLY has organised a whole series of workshops! Ranging from “Getting into character” (how to create a character and write a story about them) with Martyn Bedford, “Spark your story” (creating characters, place and atmosphere), workshops with Clare Furniss and Marcus Alexander on creating characters and the setting of our stories, or even “Knife of pen?” which explores writing adaptation for the screen, this year’s FLY has something to offer to everyone!
This year, the festival closes with the Sixth Form and College Day and an exciting play written and performed by James McDermott: Rubber Ring. The play tells the story of Jimmy, a sixteen-year-old boy living in rural Norfolk struggling with his sexual and regional identity and has only one wish: to escape. While raising difficult themes, McDermott’s play stimulates communication through its personal perspective and through laughing about taboo. Don’t miss out on such an opportunity! I know I’ll be there!
The rest of the FLY festival overs a wealth of diverse experiences and shows its engagement with educating young people. We are proud to welcome people such as BREIS, Jo Cotterill, Cliff McNish, and Andy Briggs, to name but a few, and to host many more workshops highlighting the diversity and accessibility of the world of words: “Fun with puns,” “100-word story,” “The world of manga” and “Comic strip stories.”
We hope to see you at the festival, between 10-14 July 2017!
You can also follow us on Twitter for more information about the festival! Louise, the trainee working with me, and I are the people behind some of the tweets!