Sandwell’s Shakespeare Celebration- By Sophie

by Emerge Festival (2018)

Sandwell's Shakespeare Celebration was a great success and all of the young people from RSA Academy and Coneygre Arts Centre should be incredibly proud of all that they achieved.

The Festival took place at Manor House Museum on 21st April between 12-3pm and it started in beautiful sunshine with new blossom on the trees, but like all proper Festivals it also absolutely poured it down! As some of our audience feedback said "Glastonbury eat your heart out!".

Manor House Museum proved to be an excellent venue for this event. The Museum were already holding their own arts and crafts activities on the day which took place inside the beautiful building whilst the Emerge groups took over the outside. For the first half we had stalls and activities for audiences to take part in. These included mask decorating to celebrate the Capulet's masquerade ball, decide if your gingerbread man is Capulet or a Montague and decorate and eat them(!), treasure hunts, photo booths, competitions and gory make-up and face paints. Whilst this was taking place the Elite Dance Group from RSA Academy were performing some stunning dances, and brilliant musicians from Coneygre Arts Centre were warming up our stage. For the second half of the Festival the Emerge groups took to the stage and they were excellent. Their performances were mostly inspired by the story of Romeo and Juliet and their own interpretation of this story. One group had choreographed a dance which was inspired by the story, others composed or performed a song, a rap, a Shakespeare quiz, an interview about Cleopatra and some very Shakespeare inspired scenes. Coneygre Arts Centre performed a very special version of Romeo and Juliet in 5 minutes, and RSA Academy translated the moment Romeo and Juliet first see each other into Black Country language.

All of this took place in sun and rain and no matter what happened the performers continued brilliantly. We used some of the Festival fund to hire an inflatable stage cover which really set the festival tone of the day, and acted as a good shelter from the rain! Creative Academies were also with us all afternoon providing some sports activities which went down very well with the younger members of the audience. The audience were great throughout and were singing and dancing along with the performers, especially during the dance competition. Piggy Piggy Roast provided an excellent hog roast, so no one went hungry!

I think the young people from Coneygre Arts Centre and RSA Academy should be extremely happy with what they thought-up and achieved. There was an excellent atmosphere all day and both groups worked so well together and offered unconditional support to one another. It's been brilliant working with them and watching this develop and I hope they are all very proud.