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Young Writers by a Young Writer

by on 24 April 2021

Once in a Lifetime

The Arts Richmond Young Writers Festival

The Stage Company, at the Exchange Theatre, Twickenham, 28th March

A review by Simone De Almeida

Simone De Almeida is one of our younger reviewers.  Now aged thirteen, she was awarded the distinction of Senior Laureate in Arts Richmond’s Young Writers Festival in 2020 for her poem, Requiem.

Here she reviews the 2021 Young Writers Festival

As a bright, white light illuminated the stage, I leant forward on the edge of my seat in anticipation, knowing already that what I was about to witness would be undoubtedly spectacular.  The first category of finalists was that of Year 4 and under, and to say I was amazed by the quality of work would be an understatement.  Each piece was so captivating, following truly unique storylines to create something so incredibly original.  The plots were so imaginative, ranging from the story of an unlikely friendship between a snow wolf and a polar bear cub, to the tale of a puppy finding a loving home. 

Over time, I have noticed that it can often be all too easy to become wrapped up in complexity, valuing writing by length and vocabulary, but the work of these talented young authors served as an all too welcome reminder that there is so much joy to be found in work that is truly inspired.  Each piece was truly brought to life by the incredibly talented actors, who delivered each performance with such passion and enthusiasm; it was thrilling to watch.

The next category performed was years 5 and 6, and I was awestruck by the emotion conveyed in their pieces.  They took such complex subjects such as autism, ADHD, and dyslexia, and moulded them into something so raw and beautiful.  It was evident that each author wrote from the heart, as there was such passion in their work; they perfectly understood the power of their words, and harnessed this to create something really poignant and moving. 

The work of years 7 to 9 was nothing short of brilliance.  I was so impressed by the understanding displayed of language, as each young author expressed a completely unique voice throughout their piece, drawing their inspiration from sources such as nature, popular literature, and the Yugoslav wars.  Their interpretations were crafted with genuine sensitivity, demonstrating a profound understanding and consideration for their chosen theme, and handling them with true care. 

The final category of finalists was years 10 and up, and all of their work was absolutely outstanding.  The authors explored original and imaginative themes – from the escapades of the Gods and Lucifer to a hatred of nice weather – and developed them into poems and stories that were easily comparable to those of professionals. 

It goes without saying that the event was only made possible by the incredibly talented actors AJ MacGillivray, Jo Shirley and Cara Steele whose performance was breathtakingly marvellous, and really made the event.  Likewise, Keith Wait’s directing was impeccable, and truly brought the works of the young authors to life.  All in all, the event was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the writers, and it is quite fair to say we can expect great things from every finalist.

Simone De Almeida, April 2021

Photography by Ione Peony, Nick James, Kate Scott and Trevor Leighton

Simone De Almeida’s Poem Requiem was the subject of a featured Poem Preview article published in April 2020

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