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11 March 2023

Posted by Robyn O'Mahony

Young writers exercise their creative power

On Saturday 11th March MAST, Southampton’s flagship community arts venue, was taken over by writers of different ages, backgrounds, and experiences as the 2023 Lit Fest got underway; everyone was ready with stories to share and words to write. This included our Junior and Young Writers who, as usual, came together to exercise their creativity and confidence through writing.

We started the day with our Junior Writers, who were excited by the location of the day’s workshop: MAST’s studio theatre. The group quickly acquainted themselves with the space as we raised our collective energy by moving our bodies and playing word games. 

Before we focused on the theme of the workshop, we went around the room and shared what we would win an award for. It was interesting to see how young people contemplate their own successes and we had lots of great award-winners; best actors, pet owners, and gymnasts! 

With our bodies and voices warmed up, and our Junior Writers firmly settled into the studio theatre, we focused on the words we wanted to share at the Lit Fest’s Community Showcase. The group reflected on the creative writing they had produced at other sessions, and collaborated to decide how they wanted to perform that work the following day. 

Together, the group chose to perform a poem, with the beautiful celebratory sentiment ‘I am me’. Individually, they rehearsed readings of fantastical short stories that explored fantasy worlds from haunted castles and pirates to princesses and cursed pineapples. 

Discussing the performance ahead, there was a mixture of excitement and apprehension. As a community of writers, the group shared what they thought were the components of a good performance and discussed the importance of intonation and gesture while performing. They left feeling excited about the Community Showcase and confident about their writing.

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Later in the morning, we welcomed the Young Writers to the studio theatre. Many of the group were familiar with the space, having performed there already. 

We started the session with a check-in, giving everyone an opportunity to share how they were feeling. It was a great way to ground ourselves in the moment and get the group chatting.

After warming up with a tongue-twister game and some dancing – which helped us shake off any lethargy from the week – we focused on the group’s performance at Sunday’s Community Showcase. Together, we decided that we would each read a short news report against an atmospheric soundscape.

The group reflected on writing they had produced in other sessions, spent some time editing their work, and crafted new writing for the performance. The end result was a collection of stories grounded in vivid imagery and evocative language. The theme of the group’s writing was fairly dark, so we also discussed weaving in some comedy to provide light relief.

It was great to see the unique approaches to Sunday’s performance, and the way each member of the group respected and celebrated their peers. The session ended with real enthusiasm for sharing the words these young writers had produced.


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