Tang Hall Family Festival

There was lots – and I mean lots – going on at the Tang Hall Family Festival in York yesterday. It was spread over three sites – Tang Hall Community Centre, St Nicks and Hull Road Park. And it was all free.

I got to two of the three sites. Here are some snaps to give you a flavour of what was going on at the Tang Hall Community Centre site, where I was leading story-telling sessions.

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What did I get up to there? Well, I led a story-telling/poetry quest, in which Prince Dennis of Tanghallia explored his kingdom and successfully fulfilled his mission, thus becoming King Dennis of Tanghallia.

And then I welcomed princesses into the golden palace of Tanghallia, where they rode on unicorns and sang songs in praise of Tanghallia. (It may have looked to you as if we were in a yellow gazebo standing on beanbag cubes, but that just shows how little imagination you have!) (By the way, you may remember those beanbag cubes from my visit to Tang Hall Community Centre last December, during which they became sledges and snowballs and pyramids.)

And then those same princesses shed their royal connections and created a story in which we all flew (using our magic powers, natch) to Africa, where we went on an adventure to catch a venomous snake.

I learned last time I was at Tang Hall that the children have amazing amounts of imagination and creative energy, and it was a great pleasure to encourage them to put these into action again on this occasion.

Then, just as I was leaving the site to go home, two children came up to me and asked me to perform some poems for them. How could I refuse? To start with they each chose one of my Buzzing! photos, and I performed the poem that went with each one. But have I mentioned how creative the children round these parts are? When they chose their third photo (a caterpillar), I was about to start performing my caterpillar poem, when they decided – quite rightly – that they could do just as good a job themselves. So there and then, they wrote – and then performed – a caterpillar poem of their own. Which went like this:

My spikes are so hairy
They’re big and they’re scary
And people are frightened of me
I change my ways
And how I behave
And crawl from tree to tree.

By Maisie and Nathan, both aged 10

Owzat?!

Thank you to Tang Hall Big Local for inviting me to be part of this Family Festival, and to Tang Hall Community Centre Manager Stephen Collins for letting me use his wonderful beanbag cubes again.

A big thank you, too, to all the fabulously enthusiastic festival-goers who welcomed me back to Tang Hall Community Centre so warmly, and who joined in my events yesterday.

The icing on the cake for me was that I discovered that up on the wall in the Community Centre lounge are two beautifully framed photos taken during my December story-telling workshops. I was absolutely thrilled to see them there.

A participant in my December 2016 Tang Hall story-telling workshops.

One of the photos from my December 2016 Tang Hall story-telling workshops that’s now gracing the walls of the Community Centre.

So, that’s a brief run-down of the Tang Hall Community Centre part of this 3-venue festival. (Though I forgot to mention the belly dancers, the bouncy castle, the ukelele players, the face painter, the pizza making, the ice lollies, the virtual reality headset, and … and … and!) I also looked in at the St Nicks part of the festival yesterday too. But I’ll tell you about that another time.

Meanwhile, if you live down Tang Hall way, do keep tabs on all the great activities that Tang Hall Big Local puts on.

STOP PRESS: And for a video of the Family Festival events, see

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

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Ecotherapy at St Nicks

I put on a poetry-writing session with the Ecotherapy ‘Connect to Nature with Creative Writing’ Group at St Nicks in York last week. They wanted me to begin my session with a few of my own poems. This is one that I thought apt:

Then we started our workshop proper.

I was bowled over by the quality of work the participants came up with. It far exceeded my expectations. I’d like to thank all the members of the group for letting me come and join them, and for sharing their thoughts and words and imaginations with me.

I was there as part of a project to … ah, well, that would be telling. More about that later!

Meanwhile, I had some lovely words back from participants and organisers of the group:

‘Thank you so much Anneliese, your workshop was so lively, fun and well organised, thank you. ‘

‘The poetry workshop was excellent… The feedback I have received today from group members was very positive – saying that they were very pleased with the outcome and … enjoyed getting involved and felt very pleased they had participated.’

I was very pleased to have participated too.

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

Tang Hall Big Local

This might look to you like a jumble of beanbag cubes for sitting on.

The new seat cubes at Tang Hall Community Centre

The new beanbag seats at Tang Hall Community Centre

Indeed, that’s what Tang Hall Community Centre Manager Stephen Collins bought them as. However, on their first outing (at the Tang Hall Big Local Festive Make & Take day on Saturday), the children in my storytelling sessions saw them rather differently.

These cubes became sledges to toboggan on, they became snowballs to build into tall snowmen, they became the building blocks of castles and of pyramids and … and … and … .

Oh the joy of creative, imaginative play! In this instance, creative, imaginative, language-rich play. Initially, the children were inspired to build things that featured in the rhyming stories I was performing for them. However, it soon became apparent that these children were more than capable of creating rhyming stories themselves, inspired by the things they were creating with the cubes.

Some of the children who created and performed story poems at the Tang Hall Big Local Festive Make & Take day.

Some of the children who created and performed story poems at the Tang Hall Big Local Festive Make & Take day..

After a momentous battle fought between the occupants of two rival (cube-built) castles, the children wrote an epic poem they called The Battle of Slew (a saga to rival the Icelandic sagas!) Which they then performed to an audience they rounded up themselves.

I was so impressed with these children’s creativity. With their ability to get on with each other. (This was a drop-in session that any children of any age could take part in.) With their imagination. With their vocabulary. With their enthusaism. With their performing skills. And what was great was that Tang Hall gave us the flexibility to go with the flow. Initially I had been scheduled to put on four separate 30-minute rhyming storytelling sessions, with 30-minute intervals inbetween. However, the kids wanted to carry on going without any breaks – and so we did!

The whole of the Tang Hall Big Local Festive Make & Take day was inspiring. There were a raft of seasonal craft (and my storytelling) activities put on in the Community Centre on a free, drop-in basis. *And* a delicious free lunch, which we all shared together in the hall. So uplifting! And topped off by the best inter-generational Christmas jumpers I have ever had the privilege of encountering:

The best family Christmas jumpers I have encountered!

The best family Christmas jumpers I have encountered!

Thank you to all those at Tang Hall Big Local who invited me to be part of their Seasonal Make & Take day, and who made me so welcome.

A particularly big thank you to Stephen Collins, whose inspired idea to buy some colourful bean bags to sit on transformed the day for us all!

Tang Hall Community Centre manager Stephen Collins

Tang Hall Community Centre manager Stephen Collins

There are fabulous photos from the day at Tang Hall Big Local’s Facebook page, so do go and have a look. The feedback from the day was so positive that I was invited to think about starting a regular session at the community centre there. Sounds tempting to me! Watch this space …

Meanwhile, if you’d like your community event pepping up with some rhyming storytelling, just get in touch!

Anneliese Emmans DeantheBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

St Nicks Autumn Fayre

I love putting on community poetry activities. They’re a great way of getting everyone involved in an event. And anyone who was anyone was getting involved in the Amazing Autumn Acrostic being created at St Nicks Autumn Fayre yesterday. From York’s MP Rachael Maskell and the Sheriff’s Lady, Brenda Tyler, through to both the junior and senior winners of this year’s Longest Apple Peel contest, young and old alike helped create our acrostic poem, as you can see from the slideshow below.

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The weather was kind to us, and it was a delight to see people of all ages and from all backgrounds stream into ‘the green heart of York‘, to look around and take part in a host of autumnal activities, from apple juicing to apple olympics, bird walks to water vole wanders, Nordic walking to sloe gin tasting.

The Civic Party arrived by tuktuk (100% electric; zero emissions):

The Lord Mayor's party arriving by tuktuk

The Lord Mayor’s party arriving by tuktuk

and joined in events with gusto:

The Sheriff and Sheriff's Lady taking part in the Longest Apple Peel competition

The Sheriff and Sheriff’s Lady taking part in the Longest Apple Peel competition

And as for the cake competition – mouthwatering in the extreme!

Some of the entries in the cake competition

Some of the entries in the cake competition

At the end of the Fayre we had two complete Autumn Acrostics that celebrated what visitors had enjoyed about the day, and about St Nicks in general.

Me, Ivana of St Nicks and the two complete acrostics

Me, Ivana of St Nicks and the two complete acrostics

I realise it’s a tad tricky to read these, so let me quote some of the lines for you here:

‘Totally blown away by apple-juice making scrumptiousness’

‘Bobbing apples was amazing’

‘Nature in the middle of town and the community’

‘Really, really, really looooong apple peels’

‘Acrobatic minibeasts’

‘Song thrushes, sycamores and sawflies’

‘Talking with old friends’

‘Amazing autumnal activities’

‘Swinging on the swings’

‘Carefree autumnal strolls’

‘Looking for butterflies makes me feel happy’

‘Going through the bendy paths is fun’

‘Gaining my potter’s spot’

‘Sloe gin after Nordic walking’

Winner of the Longest Apple Peel competition (Junior section)

Winner of the Longest Apple Peel competition (Junior section)

If you missed this year’s Fayre, look out for the upcoming events at St Nicks. But you don’t have to wait for a special event. Come and walk around your local nature reserve any time you fancy. (Directions here.) Who knows, you might even spot a water vole!

Thank you to Ivana and all the other staff members and volunteers who made St Nicks Autumn Fayre such a success. It’s a privilege to be a St Nicks patron.

Oh, and if you’d like me to put on a community poetry event where you are, just get in touch!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

Performing at Le Moulin Rouge

Well, I never thought when I started up theBigBuzz back in 2007 that I would end up performing at Le Moulin Rouge in the company of Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Ant and Dec. But that’s exactly what happened this Yorkshire Day (= 1st August, for the uninitiated!)

Perhaps I need to unpack that a little. Le Moulin Rouge in question was a fantastic Spiegeltent temporarily erected in the centre of my home town York, as part of The Great Yorkshire Fringe Festival.

Le Moulin Rouge (The York spiegeltent version!)

Le Moulin Rouge (The York spiegeltent version!)

And Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Ant and Dec were in fact present in the guise of face masks only, aka local volunteers judging the Yorkshire’s Got Talent portion of the day’s events. (And boy, has Yorkshire ever got talent! The contestants all sang amazingly!)

Simon Cowell (almost)

Simon Cowell (almost)

What was the day? Well, it was the family part of the Yorkshire Day Festival, a whole day and night’s worth of acts performing to raise money for the Lord Mayor’s charities, one of which is St Nicks (of which I am a Patron).

It was fabulous to watch so many other talented acts over the course of the day – and in such an amazing performance space.

Ukelele Sunshine Revival performing in Le Moulin Rouge

Ukelele Sunshine Revival performing in Le Moulin Rouge

My contribution to the day was an edu-taining ‘Birds and the Bees’ poetry show. I’m pleased to say the feedback was great – including this on the day:

‘The Birds and The Bees act was very good. My granddaughter loved it and was up on stage holding up drawings. Very good day indeed.’

and this from @FamiliesYork on Twitter:

‘Loved it. Anneliese was amazing of on

Can’t ask for more than that!

I hope that much money was raised for the Lord Mayor’s charities. And that the families who came along were inspired by my portion of the day to do plenty of minibeast hunting and birding over the summer holidays.

Thank you to the friendly and professional crew at the venue who were a great help to us all. And to Emma Courtney of The Social Octopus and Kellie Taylor for organising the event.

The Moulin Rouge crew in action

The Moulin Rouge crew in action

If you’d like some ‘amazing’ eco-edutainment at your event, just get in touch!

Anneliese Emmans Dean theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

AGM – with attitude!

Let’s face it, an AGM can be a little … lacking in pizzazz. However worthy the organisation. And Edible York, the organisation holding its AGM last night, is a *very* worthy organisation. It’s a ‘lively local charity that aims to support people to become closer to the food they eat’. Take a look at what they get up to here.

To counter the ‘lack-of-pizzazz’-ness of the evening, Edible York invited me to come and perform for them, after the formalities of the agenda were over. So I did just that. A set of poems all about what they get up to, which is growing fruit and veg.

Entertaining at the Edible York AGM

Entertaining at the Edible York AGM

How did it go down? Here’s what one  attendee tweeted afterwards:

‘Spectacular performance poetry this eve from the ever effervescent Anneliese’

Edu-taining at the Edible York AGM

Where would we be without bumblebees? Edu-taining at the Edible York AGM

And another comment:

‘I loved the way you tied everything together with merry words and buzzing characterisations. It made our AGM such a happy, memorable event!!’

Adding to the festive atmosphere was Tim Pheby playing and singing some beautiful songs (and updating us on the England v Slovakia game).

An excellent way to spend a June evening.

If you dig digging, then Edible York are always looking for new volunteers! They’ve recently produced an excellent ‘Guide to Community Growing‘ which you might find inspires you further. You can download a copy here.

And finally … if you’d me to come and pep up your AGM, then get in touch!

Anneliese Emmans DeanBringing poetry to life – theBigBuzz.biz

 

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