Youth Theatre flies high!

The ginormous invitation (taller than I am!) from Project B

In my recent podcast, recorded at the Ledbury Poetry Salon, I talked about how the poems in my two books (Buzzing! and Flying High!) can help children develop empathy by enabling them to see the world through other creatures’ eyes.

Last Saturday I had the privilege of seeing that put into action in an extraordinary way by the members of York Theatre Royal’s Project B Youth Theatre group, led by Catherine Heinemeyer. Under Catherine’s tutelage, the 5- to 8-year-old children in Project B didn’t just see the world through other creatures’ eyes, they experienced the world as other creatures. They became those other creatures.

And in exploring others’ emotions and behaviours, they were, of course, being able to explore their own too.

Let me explain.

Catherine decided to devote this term to birds, specifically through a selection of the poems in my new book Flying High! Discover the poetry in British birds. I was sent a stonking invitation (taller than I am!) created by the members of Project B, to come to their end-of-term sharing, where they were going to perform for their parents. And where I joined in too.

In their sharing, the children acted out the contrasting behaviours of Starlings – now scrapping with each other, now swirling round elegantly all together as a mass murmuration – to my Starling poem called ‘Startling’.

They divided into (posh) Great-crested Grebes and (common-as-muck) ducks and performed my ‘Different Strokes’ poem.

As I performed my poem about a Blackbird building a nest, they built their own nest together:

Project B children sitting in the nest they'd created

Project B children sitting in the nest they built

And then, as we all joined in with my poem about a Blue tit leaving its nest, they experimented with leaving their safe, cosy nest (or not!):

Project B children leaving their cosy nest (or not!)

Project B children leaving their cosy nest (or preferring to stay put!)

In my podcast, I also talk about the importance of rhythmic rhyming poetry for developing children’s language and broadening their vocabulary. You can hear this in action in this clip of the Project B children reciting, along with me, my courting pigeon poem:

(The footsteps you can hear in the background are them pattering around as pigeons, trying to attract a mate.)

I was entranced by the use Catherine and Project B made of the material in my book, and hope others will use it in similar ways too. It’s always a complete joy to me when children read out my poems. But watching them performing the poems and exploring the different behaviours and emotions in them like this was remarkable. And very moving.

Catherine described my taking part in the session as ‘a real 360 degree experience’ for the children. It was for me too!

With Project B after the sharing

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

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Today’s the day!

Great excitement here, as today’s the day my new book, Flying High! Discover the poetry in British birds is published! I hope you enjoy it!

Buy your signed copy, with free postage, for £9.99
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Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

Little Feet fly high at York Theatre Royal

York Theatre Royal rang to the sounds of birdsong plus the patter of (relatively) tiny feet last Saturday. Why? Because storyteller Catherine Heinemeyer and I were putting on performances of our Flying High show there as part of the fourth Little Feet Festival of Children’s Theatre.

Catherine Heinemeyer and I performing Flying High at York Theatre Royal

Catherine Heinemeyer and I performing Flying High at York Theatre Royal (Photo: Eloise Ross)

Flying High takes you into the wonderful world of birds, through rhythm, rhyme, story and song. And – on this occasion – finger-puppets too.

Finger puppet at Flying High at York Theatre Royal

(Photo: Eloise Ross)

It was fabulous to see so many young children in the theatre, enjoying the (newly refurbished) spaces, and the shows and activities put on specially for them.

Taking part in Flying High

Taking part in Flying High (Photo: Eloise Ross)

How did our show go down?

Ursula’s mum called it ‘a wonderful show. My daughter loved it and was talking about it today when I poured her water at tea time!’

Listening to Catherine's story ...

Listening to Catherine’s story … (Photo: Eloise Ross)

And Festival co-organiser, Juliet Forster of York Theatre Royal, said she had ‘really enjoyed’ our show, and that it had been ‘a great addition to the festival’.

(Photo: Eloise Ross)

(Photo: Eloise Ross)

Flying High comes in lots of flavours, to suit different ages and attention spans, from tinies right through to grown-ups. Let us know if you’d like us to come fly high where you are!

(Photo: Eloise Ross)

(Photo: Eloise Ross)

Meanwhile, if you haven’t checked out the newly revamped York Theatre Royal, do. See what a £6 million redevelopment looks and feels like!

Anneliese Emmans DeantheBigBuzz.biz – Bringing poetry to life

 

Sneak preview …

Here’s a sneak preview of the cover of my new book, Flying High!, which will be published later this year by Brambleby Books:

The cover of my forthcoming new book, to be published by Brambleby Books this summer

The cover of my forthcoming new book, to be published by Brambleby Books this summer

Isn’t it wonderful? Designed by Tanya Warren at Creatix Design for Brambleby, and featuring a superb photo taken by Lee Walker.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted that this is very much the companion volume to my first Brambleby book, i.e. Buzzing!  But whereas Buzzing! was all about minibeasts, Flying High! is – you’ve guessed it – all about birds.

Flying High! takes you through the seasons, bird by bird, poem by poem, fact by fact. (Oh, and giggle by giggle, of course!) All accompanied by stunning photos from a whole array of talented bird photographers. And a fabulous Foreword by the RSPB Vice-President himself, none other than Professor Sir John Lawton CBE FRS.

All very exciting!

I’ll let you know when publication is imminent …

Anneliese Emmans Deanwww.theBigBuzz.biz – Bringing poetry to life

 

 

Family Fun at Ryedale Book Festival

‘Step through the magnificent gates into a magical woodland world …’ the Festival brochure said. And it wasn’t wrong.

On Sunday, children, parents, grandparents and godparents galore gathered in Malton’s ‘secret garden’, Castle Gardens, for the Ryedale Book Festival Family Fun Day themed around nature.

The day started off with artist and illustrator Matt Sewell teaching us all how to draw birds, in his Spotting and Jotting workshop:

Matt Sewell teaching us how to draw birds

Matt Sewell teaching us how to draw birds

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Then storyteller Catherine Heinemeyer and I took to the stage to perform our Flying High show all about birdsong – ably assisted by members of the audience, young and not-so-young alike.

Catherine Heinemeyer and I performing Flying High, ably assisted by an audience member. Ryedale Book Festival, October 2015

Catherine Heinemeyer and I performing Flying High, ably assisted by an audience member. Ryedale Book Festival, October 2015

And the entertainments kept coming! I had had a word with the Mayor of Malton on the previous Friday about securing us good weather for the day, and she didn’t disappoint. It was a beautiful sun-soaked Autumn day. So we were able to enjoy and explore the outdoor space with a book-cover trail, particularly fine face-painting

Face painting by Sarah Corner

Face painting by Sarah Corner of facepaintingcorner.co.uk

… freshly baked pizzas and coffee and cakes, all accompanied by exquisitely crafted book-themed songs written and performed by the fabulous Bookshop Band.

The Bookshop Band at Ryedale Book Festival

The Bookshop Band at Ryedale Book Festival

Waterstones was on hand to sell books, with a nice big space for us authors to sign and dedicate copies for our readers.

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Signing copies of Buzzing! at the Waterstones bookstall

And whilst we were roaming the Gardens, Matt Sewell was at the boundary wall creating a wonderful bird-themed mural – a flurry of Long-tailed Tits:

Matt Sewell creating his mural at Castle Gardens, Malton

Matt Sewell creating his mural at Castle Gardens, Malton

All in all a lovely, lovely day with a huge range of inspiring activities and experiences for all ages. If you missed it this year, then do put Ryedale Book Festival in your diary for next year.

I’ll leave you with a quote from the Festival brochure:
‘The Ryedale Book Festival is an inclusive, community-led, not for profit organisation run by a team of dedicated volunteers with a passion for books. If you would like to get involved, contact the Festival team: events@ryedalebookfestival.com

And … it even has its own beer!

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Thank you to all the volunteers who put so much work into creating such a friendly and well-run Festival – especially Sarah Tyson, Audrie Woodhouse, Helen Lowdell and Pinelopi Bourke. It was a great pleasure to be part of it.

Anneliese Emmans DeantheBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

Flying High again

Storyteller Catherine Heinemeyer and I had great fun last week when we performed our Flying High show all about birds to The Children’s Society PACT Project Youth Club here in York. I say we performed the show ‘to’ them. Actually ‘with’ would be a much more accurate term, as the Youth Club members joined in with great gusto. They joined in with the poems I performed and they told us all about the birds in their gardens and then at the end, we all made up a story together, about a robin.

Joining in the storytelling

Joining in the storytelling

Catherine and I were thrilled to read the feedback forms we asked our audience to fill in. All the young people and all their support workers said they’d enjoyed the show ‘a lot’, and they all said they’d learned new things about birds.

Filling in the Feedback Form!

Filling in the Feedback Form!

My feedback about the evening: it was a joy to perform for (with!) these young people, and to chat with them afterwards. Thank you for having us!

Me with Catherine Heinemeyer and one of the Youth Club memb

Me with Catherine Heinemeyer and one of the Youth Club members at the end of our show

Anneliese Emmans DeantheBigBuzz – Bringing Poetry to Life

Flying High on Friday

Have you heard your first chiffchaff of this (so-called) Spring yet? A member of the audience at our ‘Flying High’ show on Friday has – in York Cemetery.

Don’t know what a chiffchaff sounds like? You obviously weren’t at our ‘Flying High’ show! I defy anyone who was there not to be able to instantaneously recognise a chiffchaff when they next hear one!

Thank you to everyone who packed Jacob’s Well on Friday and joined in our York Literature Festival ‘Flying High’ show with such gusto. And listened to Catherine Heinemeyer’s telling of the Sumerian Anzu Bird story with such attentiveness.

Particular thanks to John Illingworth, for taking these fabulous photos of the event:

Flying High with Catherine Heinemeyer at York Literature Festival. Photo by John Illingworth.

Flying High with Catherine Heinemeyer at York Literature Festival 2013. Photo by John Illingworth.

How big is a herring gull's wingspan? This big! From Flying High at York Literature Festival 2013. Photo by John Illingworth.

How big is a herring gull’s wingspan? This big! From Flying High at York Literature Festival 2013. Photo by John Illingworth.

Catherine Heinemeyer telling us the tale of the Anzu Bird, in Flying High at York Literature Festival 2013. Photo by John Illingworth.

Catherine Heinemeyer telling us the tale of the Anzu Bird, in Flying High at York Literature Festival 2013. Photo by John Illingworth.

Thank you too to Conor and Paddy, without whom we never would have got the venue set up in time!

And a big Thank You to Festival Director Miles Salter and his band of stalwart volunteers for putting on another fantastic York Literature Festival.

Oh, and if you’d like us to come Fly High at your school or event, just get in touch!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – www.theBigBuzz.biz – Bringing Poetry to Life