Hey guys!! You might remember from last year that I visited The Big Malarkey Festival and met one of my favourite childhood authors Lauren Child. In case you didn’t, the Big Malarkey Festival is a Hull literary festival, founded last year as part of city of culture. This year, I was asked by a member of the Big Malarkey Festival team, Laura Beddows to review the events happening for 12-18 year olds on the Blundabus at the Festival. I was really pleased that they’d decided to cater for this age group since I think people in this age range are often stuck between activities for kids and activities for adults with nothing there for them in the middle. Laura is also the project Manager for the Get on Board project, which involves people in that age range and asks for suggestions of what they’d like to see at next year’s festival. I would definitely like to be included in this project and I hope it does attract a lot of interest from Hull teens. From 18th to 22nd of June, lots of Hull schools participated in workshops organised by the Festival. Then, over the weekend, a whole host of literary based activities occurred at the Festival with things for all the family for a small cost of £2.50 for children and £5 for adults. I really enjoyed the Festival and I learnt some great new skills and met some amazing people. So in today’s post, I’m going to focus on the events that were programmed for 12 to 18 year olds and grant you with my honest opinion of it.
To kick off our day at the Big Malarkey Festival, we were entertained by a poetry performance from Manchester based poet Dominic Berry. He had 4 poems that he shared with us; one about a dragon trapped in a maths book, one about a sad Minecraft love story and one about a character called Ruby fighting off a dinosaur. His fourth poem was completely free style as he asked audience members what their favourite things were and spontaneously created a poem about them all. I also got to listen in on another one of his pop up performances where he delivered some similar poems and I was extrememly impressed with how he performed the poems. His delivery was what drew people in as he spoke with a clear loud voice and included actions. He also adapted it to suit the audience which was a great skill to have.
Next, I partook in a workshop about bias and fake news, hosted by Sachi Lloyd. It really opened my eyes to how manipulative the world of media can be and how stereotypes can be blown out of proportion. She introduced us to ‘face to face’ technology which can digitally transfer one person’s facial expressions onto another and intimate a person’s speech. This brings amazing but scary results and will make it even harder to distinguish between fake news and real news. Also, she talked about a certain stereotype we have of some celebrities through the media and how persuasive the media can be in changing that perception. She shared some helpful tips with us such as trying to see both sides of an argument, research a range of sources and keep our wits about us when identifying fake news. I definitely feel like I’m more educated than before in this area and I hope I can use my new knowledge in the future to help me identify any fake news I come across.
After that, we listened to some of the writing from the First Story Students as they warmed up for their big performance that was coming up later on. First Story are a charity, passionate about helping young people find their voice through writing. They bring talented, professional writers into secondary schools to work alongside teachers and students to foster creativity and communication skills. I think that the work First Story is completing is incredible and I was blown away listening to some of the pieces of writing the students they’d worked with had created.
On the first day I stayed for the morning at the Big Malarkey Festival. Therefore, my final event I witnessed on the Blundabus was the poetry slam from some members of Young Identity and Hull’s very own Josie Langford. Young Identity are a Manchester based group of spoken word artists, musicians, actors and rappers/MC’s. Four of their members attended the Festival so the four of them with the addition of Jodie each performed one of their poems for us. Each one of them delivered their poems with a great deal of passion and really immersed themselves into it. They had an alternative and unique style to any poetry that I’d heard before that was quite refreshing.
After an exciting first day of the Festival, I was excited for what day 2 would bring. First of all, I got to meet Kofi Smiles!! He’s a very important element of Hull 2017 City of Culture since he was picked out of hundreds of hopefuls to be the face of Hull 2017. I got the opportunity to show him my blog and he seemed impressed with it which was pleasing. I do really look up to Kofi because of all the city of culture work he carried out last year and the important part he played in promoting it that year. He was also a very down to earth and genuine person.
After that, I participated in a song writing workshop from Michelle Scally Clarke which was definitely a new experience for me. I’ve never really been encouraged before to compose my own songs but Michelle helped us all to write songs that reflected the message we individually wanted to portray. We were writing songs about a journey and she informed us that we were the drivers of the song and could select the path it followed. She urged us to write down all the ideas and thoughts we had and ‘clear out the closet’. By doing this, we were having a conversation with the paper and then with the world through our song. Michelle then explained that there was no right or wrong way to tackle song writing and she advised that we use metaphors and describe in the song with the 5 senses. I decided to do a song about a journey through Bordeaux which is one of my favourite travel destinations in the world and I enjoyed creating a song that conveyed my love for it. I was also immensely impressed with the songs that the other girls had composed through the course of the workshop and I love that Michelle worked with each of us individually and really put us all at ease.
Up next were Joe Hakim and Kirsty Taylor who shared some of their poetry with us and then proceeded to carry out a poetry workshop for us. Joe is a Hull based poet while Kirsty is a poet from Bradford. They both performed two poems for us; Joe’s poems were centred around how great Hull is and old pictures on social media that haunt you while Kirsty’s poems were called ‘Sausage Roll Baby’ and ‘Children of the Night’. ‘Sausage Roll Baby’ focused on social issues using the metaphor of a Greg’s sausage roll. However, ‘Children of the Night’ described a night out for a teen at an ice rink and it was completely relatable to what happens with teens nowadays. I loved the fact that they performed their poetry with actions and with character in their voice and you could tell both of them were very passionate about it. Their poetry workshop was based around describing the place you would visit if you’d just won the lottery and trying to work with the 5 senses to portray that place. Since I’d just written a song about Bordeaux, I settled upon the choice of Magic Kingdom in Disney World Florida which I visited a couple of years ago. It was a lot of fun to relive all of the memories I created there and to stretch myself because I don’t often write poetry. I found Joe and Kirsty’s workshop really helpful and I love that they have the aim of trying to get more kids into poetry.
During our lunch break, me and my dad ended up talking to the performers behind the Impromptu story tellers and they entertained us with some different stories. First, they described how God created the whale. There was a massive veggie growing in his garden which kept engulfing all the other veg. On closer inspection, God discovered it had a pair of eyes and was actually a creature. He banished it to the sea for stealing all his veg and when it wouldn’t fit underneath the waves, he pushed it under, forming the spout on its head. The second story was a riddle and described how a farmer left half of his flock of 17 sheep to his eldest son, a third to the middle son and a ninth to his youngest son. However, no matter how they tried they couldn’t split the flock up by the amounts they’d inherited. But an old lady in the village lent them one of her sheep to sort it as long as they promised to return it. As if by magic, the flock was accurately split up and they had the old lady’s sheep left to return to her.
The final event I took part in was a review writing taster session by Jack Chamberlain from theatre company Middle Child. Obviously, my blog is very review orientated so I found this workshop interesting for building up my skills in that department. He encouraged us to consider themes, plot line, emotions and device and techniques when writing a review. It’s very important to share reviews because artists love getting feedback on their work and expanding on their artistry with constructive criticism. He also granted us with the idea of playing around with the format of your reviews by for example, using Roald Dahl – esc language while writing a review about Roald Dahl. After sharing all these tips, he allowed us to have a go at writing our own review. I decided to write a review about the movie ‘Love, Rosie’ which has become a favourite film of mine after I watched it about a week ago and I included all the tips from Jack’s workshop into it. I found the workshop so helpful and I’ll definitely try and use some of the tips I was given.
Overall, I really enjoyed the Festival and I’m so proud that I get to review the events targeted at 12-18 year olds. Thank you so much to Laura for inviting me along and to all the people who arranged and took part in the Festival. It really was an unforgettable weekend.
Thanks for reading!! Have you been to a festival recently? Let me know in the comments!! There’ll be another post out soon but until then bye for now!!
Amelia Grace a.k.a Amelia in Hull x