A year ago I sat, in this same pew, and watched as a transformation took place. From damp, dust, rubble and dirt, emerged something truly brilliant. I’d never seen anything like it! This old chapel which seemed to be falling apart around us became a place of beauty. Now it’s happening again as East Leeds FM launch into their 4th major event at Seacroft Methodist Chapel – Live@Chapel 2012.
Live@Chapel will be bringing together some amazing authors, poets, actors, musicians, singers and comedians but I’m more interested in seeing what some of the local young people have to offer. As ELFM’s Education Coordinator I am lucky enough to work with everyone from tiny children at primary school to teenagers and young adults at colleges and universities. I am repeatedly reminded what a wealth of talent East Leeds has, just waiting to be explored.
ELFM have a training programme for teenagers called ‘The Next Generation’. These are eloquent, confident, amazing young people who have plenty to say for themselves. Tonight we will be meeting up so that they can rehearse their contributions to the festival. On Thursday 21st at 6pm they are presenting ‘Leeds By The Tale’ where they will be showcasing their writing skills. With moving real-life tales of loss and loneliness to poetry about socks, I guarantee there will be plenty to listen to. On Friday 22nd at 7pm they will be debuting ‘To The Lighthouse’ – a radio drama that they have written over the last month.
As well as working with the teenagers, I’ve also been fortunate enough to work closely with the five schools who are taking part in ‘Telling Tales’ each day at 2pm. They’ve been working really hard on some fantastic pieces of writing with storytellers Matthew Bellwood and Siobhan MacMahon. Yesterday I visited a school where they were writing stories about magical wishing stones and was stunned by the creativity of the pupils.
One of the best things about working with young people is watching them change and grow into amazing young adults. This seems very fitting and echoes the way we are trying to shape this well-loved building into something even greater. As I write this, the current ‘Next Generation’ are arriving, rehearsal is about to begin and the words on the pages are about to come to life. Tomorrow the festival starts and this years transformation of the chapel, from crumbling brickwork to stunning art space will be complete.
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