Emerge log lock up

Things are well underway in Tamworth as we edge closer and closer to festival day.

All our LAB groups have decided on what they will be showing and are now working hard to get scripts written, choreography finalised, and lines learnt. In our Community LAB, Phoenix Youth Theatre are working on a variety of Shakespeare inspired drama pieces including, a Shakespeare Murder Mystery and a stunning movement piece based on Macbeth. The level of imagination and skills the young people at Phoenix demonstrate inspires me each session. The group will be hosting a ‘showing’ of these pieces for family and friends at the end of February. Our other community group, Upbeat Dance, are choreographing a selection of dance pieces inspired by the Tempest. From turbulent storm sequences, to magical pixie movements, they’ve got the essence of the play covered. We still have a limited amount of contact time with Upbeat but the standard there is so high, they take everything we throw at them and turn it into something incredible.

Over at our school LAB, Landau Forte, it’s all Romeo and Juliet themed, with a retelling of the classic story this time based on school rivalry and set here in Tamworth, as well as a selection of romance and conflict themed dance pieces. The group are also planning a series of workshops and activities to take place throughout the festival days including, a Shakespeare photo booth, dance workshops, and a festival mural. We’ve continued to have some issues with recruitment at the school and our core groups is still quite small, however those that are involved are constantly committed and enthusiastic. We recently produced a set of music, photography, arts, and literature briefs to encourage older students to take part in the festival without have to commit to weekly workshops. These have proved successful and we should have a selection of additional performances from young people at the school.

Young people in all our LABs are making progress with their Arts Award portfolios although it’s fair to say there’s been a higher uptake of interest in some groups than others. We’re looking forward to our visit from Art Award Advisor, Judy McFall, who’s going to make sure we’re all on the right track and hopefully give us some tips and tricks on getting the most of the Award.

Sorting the location for this year’s festival has been relatively simple as after last year’s event it was decided that Emerge should become part of Tamworth’s annual Saint George’ Day Extravaganza which takes place in the grounds of Tamworth Castle. It’s a fantastic location and event attracts thousands of people each year giving us the potential to draw a huge audience to the Emerge performances. We’re very lucky to have a very supportive relationship with Tamworth Borough Council, in particular Laura Patrick. We have another meeting with Laura soon to talk through wet weather planning and programme timings. Our area of the grounds is very close to where the exciting, but very loud, jousting shows are happening so we need make sure that our programme works around this or there’s risk our performers will be drowned out by the thundering hooves or splintering of lances!

As we’re part of the St. George’s Day event we have to work around their timings so our Emerge festival will be running from 10am to 5pm. Whilst our LABs have come up with lots of fantastic content, seven hours is a big block of time to fill so we’re planning to run our full programme twice, with morning and an afternoon showing. We’ll have a break in middle during which there will be activity stalls and workshops for our audience to enjoy. We also had to think about access to electricity as the area of the castle grounds we’ll be using is one of the only spaces that doesn’t have any electric hookups. Fortunately our school LAB have access to a generator, PA system, and radio mics that we can use on the day.

Working on this project is continually helping me develop my artistic practise as I’m learning so much from the other Emerge artists and from my fantastic LAB staff. The young people involved continue to surprise and inspire me, as well as helping me improve the way I deliver workshops. I have already learnt so much about the practical sides of events management and as we get closer to festival day I know I’m only going keep learning. Working on Emerge is a fantastic experience and I can’t wait to see what our festival looks like.

Siobhan Donnelly

Emerge Tamworth will take place on Saturday 21 April from 10 -5pm at Tamworth Castle Grounds. Emerge Festivals are FREE. 



Emerge is a regional programme of one-day festivals led by young people in the heart of local communities. The festivals are directed by a commissioned young artist, in partnership with schools and community organisations. Over the past two years Emerge has delivered 24 children and young people-led arts festivals in 12 Midlands locations. These festivals celebrate the life and work of William Shakespeare, with an emphasis on language and storytelling using a range of different disciplines from performance to visual art.

The Emerge festivals happen simultaneously across the midlands over one day. The festivals are planned, programmed and promoted by young people, led by artists selected through an open call. The festivals will take place in these geographic areas:

East Midlands – Horncastle, Spalding, Boston, Corby, Mansfield and Ashfield

West Midlands – Cannock Chase, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, Tamworth and Wolverhampton