Fun, Creativity and Shakespeare in Cannock Chase- By Josh Hawkins

by Emerge Festival (2018)

Tell us about Emerge Festival in Cannock Chase?

Saturday the 21st April brought fun, creativity and Shakespeare to Cannock Chase and what a
day it was! Full of nerves and adrenaline, we began our ambitious mulit-site festival with the sun
shining and our fingers crossed it would last till 4:30pm...

The festival started at both sites with a Sword Fight Battle accompanied by Henry V 'Once More
Unto The Breach Dear Friend'. The Emerge young people had the luxury of working with stage
combat specialist Caitlin Howard. With swords in hand and kitted out with our special in-house
designed t-shirts - we took squad goals to a whole new level! From the very start of the day, we
had friends and family of the young people watching and supporting and it was so lovely to see
how supported they were! Young audience member were asking "Can I join in? How can I get
involved?"... so looks like we already have new recruits for next year!

The performance by the young people were smooth, professional, fun and well received by all.
They took ownership of their work and they did themselves proud! My favourite part of the day
was seeing the young people watch and be inspired by the guest artists. They sat and watched
Contemporary Dance, Folk Music and joined in with a Spoken Word workshop... and they loved
every bit of it. It was great to see them absorb it all and get into the spirit of the festival. I think
that this has filled them with inspiration and fuel for an even better event next year - now they will
have a clear vision about what is possible!

The whole festival team were amazing throughout the day (Kerry, Tracie, Mal and Christine) and it
was all hands on deck from start till finish. I was whizzing between the two festival sites, the
Museum and the Library, to meet the guest artists and make sure to get a glimpse at as much of
the performance as possible. It's safe to say that come 5pm, we were all exhausted!

The project has challenged me in new ways and allowed me to experiment with new ways of
working creatively with young people over a long period of time. I've learnt new skills in working
with movement and text and enjoyed the challenge of understanding, modernising and enjoying
Shakespeare. I've loved getting stuck in with every element of planning, producing and curating
this festival and have enjoyed seeing it all come together. I think we were super ambitious with
planning a multi-site festival, and a vintage bus, but who doesn't love a challenge?

I want to say a huge thank you to everyone involved in Emerge Cannock Chase and to the lovely
young people who whole heartily committed to the project - we had a ball! We've already spoken
about the possibility of the young people booking Hawk Dance Theatre (my own dance company)
to come and perform at next years even - See you in 2019!
Over and out
- Josh Hawkins