by Emerge Festival (2018)

Hello, Charley writing to you here from Nero's in Boston as I reflect on what a brilliant job we did at our festival, Random Acts of Shakespeare.


Picture the scene; a creative explosion of performance, music, graffiti, film, food, and Pride flags everywhere. Working on the festival we had 16 students from Thomas Middlecott Academy and Ella from Boston Young Carers, all in custom tie-dyed festival t-shirts and rainbow lanyards. They rose to the challenge of managing a festival (and fitting in some brilliant performances along the way) and it was such a joy to witness the months of hard work come to fruition.

The performances included poetry exploring gender, a love play modernising Shakespearian quotes, a physical theatre ribbon duet, some lip syncing, Boston Young Drummers, and some dance. In addition we were delighted to include our commissioned new works by emerging artists. Jac O'kody, Kieran Spiers, and Sarah J Dewhurst were commissioned by the young people to create new work to be showcased at the festival, and inspired by Shakespeare of course.

Other festival activities included Tug of War, a Graffiti Zone, Shakespeare's garden, Medieval mocktails, Shakespeare cookies, and a sharing of a silent horror movie made by the young people at Thomas Middlecott Academy.

It really was a magnificent day.


My personal highlight of the festival was allowing a platform for Laken to celebrate his identity in front of his friends and family. Through working with the young people and spending quality time with them, we spoke a lot about gender issues within the school and more broadly. A majority of the group identified as queer. I felt that it was really important to be a champion of these people, and give them a safe platform to be their true selves and show that they are supported and loved. So, we absolutely covered the school in Pride flags and made the poetry section about issues we feel passionate about. As part of this, Laken read a spoken word piece about his identity as a trans man, in front of his teary-eyed Mum and friends. I've never seen bravery like it. Here is Laken's poem:

I've haven't decided who I am

I 've chosen my path, twisting and twirling spiralling into this dark hole where no visible light is to be seen.

I am trying to breath but my skin to refusing so now I am drowning. This is not me. I am a young man who wants to be accepted in his own skin, not this female prison.

I am ME this is who I am supposed to be no matter what hand I hold or what I wear, I am going to succeed.

Hello, this is Laken a boy trapped in another person's skin.

I am so proud of everyone I worked with throughout this journey. I hope they gained as much from this experience as I did, and keep on being their true, creative selves.