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Young Writers Festival 2022

by on 28 March 2022

Assembly of Young Writing

The Young Writers Festival 2022

Arts Richmond, the Exchange Theatre, Twickenham, 27th March

Review by Heather Moulson

I was eager to be present at this celebration of young writer’s poetry and prose, having witnessed outstanding talent in previous years.  Reading through the full content of work listed, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed.

The set consisted of a row of colour coordinated chairs on which eight actors came and sat.   The atmosphere became ripe with anticipation.    With great gusto against a backdrop of visual titles, the first piece How to Send a Hug by Joshua Stewart was an excellent start to the afternoon’s session of young people’s writings.  From Key Stage 1 upwards, these talented pieces got the merit they deserved. 

In past productions, the youthful actors had been more physical in their presentation of the selected pieces, and although some poems were accompanied by mime, the formal seating and oppressive lighting gave it the air of a school assembly.  I must admit to hankering for more vibrancy.   However, the high standard of writing compensated for this.   

A number of contemporary issues were tackled from these clever young writers including The Covid Test by Layla Farr and Climate Change by Joseph Castagne.  Along with tender and visual pieces such as The Rainbow by Grace Aljewicz.   It’s always invigorating to see such young talent emerging, making this a worthy occasion.   

The highest point of this production was naturally the announcement of the overall winners and the collecting of award certificates from  the Mayor and Mayoress of Richmond Cllr Geoff Acton and his wife. Adding to the sense of occasion, one of the Patrons of Arts Richmond Sir Vince Cable was also present with Lady Cable. 

The prize winners were Joseph Castagne, Alessandro Paul Faccio , Jess Gunn, Olivia Nugent and Isabella Crawley.   These were well deserved but, in truth, every poem there had already won. 

This production of new writing was directed and cast by Marc Batten and introduced by Hilary Dodman.  The group of talented readers and performers consisted of Naomi Pink, Arthur Holmes, Savannah Swyer, Meaghan Baxter, Loz Keal, Loresa Leka, Bianca Alves Dos Santos and Alex Lynch.   There should also be a big nod to the judges Imogen Bond, Elizabeth Ryan and Anne Beach for their excellent selection of winners.   They really had the toughest task of all.   

Get writing, young poets, I want to be back there next year. 

Heather Moulson, March 2022

Photography by Mart Baptista and Roger Ched

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