Emergence Festival celebrates emerging artists in lockdown at University of York

Emergence Festival: A celebration of emerging talent, presented on Zoom from the University of York

EMERGENCE Festival, a free virtual arts festival showcasing emerging artists creating work in York in the pandemic, will run online from tomorrow (23/2/2021) until Saturday.

Co-ordinated by co-producers Olivia Maltby, Millie Feary and Blyth McPherson at the University of York, the festival on Zoom will feature six plays directed, designed and performed by students: NSFW by Lucy Kirkwood; Mike Bartlett’s Wild by Mike Bartlett; Ross & Rachel by James Fritz; Gary Owen’s killology; Wild Swimming by Marek Horn and Jez Butterworth’s The River.

Solo music by Yorkshire artists James Banks and Rumbi Tauro will book-end the festival, Doncaster pop singer Banks performing new original music and covers on the opening day; Intake R&B/soul artist Tauroplaying a live set at the online closing party.

James Banks: Doncaster musician to play online at Emergence Festival

Doncaster instructor Claire Burns will lead a Hatha yoga class, Sunshine Yoga, and the University of York Comedy Society’s sketch troupe, The Dead Ducks, will perform a sketch first aired at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe.

Panels and talks with industry professionals, such as Sorcha McCaffrey, The Paper Birds, Rocket Box Theatre, JustOut Theatre and Chris Swain, will offer the chance to discuss how to survive as an artist in a pandemic and how to break into the industry. 

These will take place in the form of live Q&As or webinars, where the artists will be to answer any and every questions.

“Celebrating the work of new and upcoming artists in the performing arts industry has never been so important,” says Olivia, introducing a virtual festival where everything will be free to attend from the comfort of home.

The River: Jez Butterworth’s play set on a moonless night in August

“With the effects of the pandemic on the arts sector, anyone in the industry has faced disruption and is challenged with fears of the future. Our festival provides a positively exciting space for emerging artists to showcase their talent far and wide and to remind us of how important art and culture is.”

Originally, Emergence Festival was intended to take place at University of York’s theatre department, but in response to Lockdown 3, the students had to adapt to what was possible, embracing the opportunity to present their work on Zoom.

After overcoming the initial fear of poor wi-fi and glitching, the artists have thrived in their new environment in their rehearsals, culminating in this week’s live performances online.

Sam Armstrong: Director of Ross & Rachel

The full schedule is: 

Tuesday, February 23

5.15pm to 5.30pm:  Welcome speech.

5.30pm to 6.20pm: Wild Swimming by Marek Horn.

A kaleidoscopic exploration of cultural progress, Marek Horn’s play Wild Swimming is an interrogation of gender and privilege and a wilfully ignorant history of English Literature.

Wild Swimming: Marek Horn’s kaleidoscopic exploration of cultural progress

6.20pm to 6.55pm: James Banks.

Doncaster singer James Banks’s songs are a fusion of pop anthems and the vocal stylings of Sam Smith, Will Heard and Conan Grey. His set will combine originals and covers.

7pm to 8.20pm:  NSFW by Lucy Kirkwood.

This sharp comedy addresses power games and privacy in the media and beyond.

Wednesday, February 24.

4pm to 5pm: Q&A with Sorcha McCaffrey.

In this interactive Q&A session, writer and actor Sorcha McCaffrey will take questions from the audience about her career in the theatre industry, writing a solo show and performing as a touring artist.

Sorcha McCaffrey: Live Q&A at Emergence Festival on Wednesday

5pm to 6.20pm: killology by Gary Owen.

In a play where a controversial new gaming experience is inspiring a generation, players are rewarded for torturing victims, scoring points for “creativity”.

7pm to 8.40pm: Wild by Mike Bartlett.

This darkly comic play explores the unexpected, bewildering and life-changing consequences of challenging the status quo at a global level.

Thursday, February 25

4pm to 5pm: In Conversation with The Paper Birds.

The Paper Birds, a devising theatre company with a social and political agenda, specialise in verbatim theatre, inspiring change through the theatre they create. In this session, they will discuss their experience of breaking into the theatre industry, devising theatre inspired by the community around them and their projects in lockdown. 

Ross & Rachel: James Fritz’s dark and uncompromising play about romance, expectation and mortality

5pm to 6.15pm: Ross & Rachel by James Fritz.

A dark and uncompromising play about romance, expectation and mortality, Ross & Rachel tells the story of what happens when two friends who were always meant to be together, get together and stay together.

7pm to 8.15pm: The River by Jez Butterworth.

On a moonless night in August when the sea trout are ready to run, a man brings his new girlfriend to the remote family cabin where he has come for the fly-fishing since he was a boy. She is not the only woman he has brought there, however, nor indeed the last.

Friday, February 26

4pm to 5pm: In Conversation with Chris Swain.

Chris Swain, lighting designer for devising physical theatre company Gecko, will answer questions on life as a technical freelancer working in theatre and dance: how to start; how theatre design jobs are structured; the difference between devised and text-led work; how to be an effective collaborator; the tech and software that are used, and the future of the industry.

Zooming in: Maria Cook and Bradley Hodgson in rehearsal for The River

5pm to 6.40pm: Wild by Mike Bartlett.

6.40pm to 7pm: Comedy Sketch by The Dead Ducks.

The University of York Comedy Society sketch troupe The Dead Ducks will stream a humorous performance during the interval. 

7pm to 8.20pm: NSFW by Lucy Kirkwood.

Saturday, February 27

10am to 11am: Sunshine Yoga with Claire Burns.

Claire Burns hosts a live yoga session of sun salutations with gentle, energising, breath-led flows, guided meditation and deep relaxation.

In concert: Rumbi Tauro to perform closing online show at Emergence Festival

11am to 12 noon: Rocket Box X JustOut Theatre.

Theatre companies Rocket Box and JustOut Theatre invite questions about their insight into life post-graduation and taking first steps into the theatre industry. Mistakes were made, lessons were learnt, so, sit down, open notebooks and let the demystifying revelations begin.

12 noon to 1.15pm, The River by Jez Butterworth.

2.40pm to 4pm: killology by Gary Owen.

4.05pm to 4.55pm: Wild Swimming by Marek Horn.

5.30pm to 6.50pm: Ross & Rachel by James Fritz.

7pm onwards: Closing party with Rumbi Tauro.

Zimbabwean-born soul and R&B singer-songwriter Rumbi Tauro, from Intake, Doncaster, will close the festival with a set of originals and covers to celebrate the work of Emergence’s emerging artists. 

Emergence Festival free tickets can be booked at: https://tftv.ticketsolve.com/shows. For more information, go to https://igpproducers.wixsite.com/website.

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