Who wants to be funny? Stephen Joseph Theatres has just the online course for you

Funny business: Paddy Young will be giving tips on standing up to the challenge of being a comedian. Picture: Lucas Smith

DO you fancy learning how to be funny in Scarborough?

An online course in stand-up comedy will start next month, run on Zoom by the Stephen Joseph Theatre, along with a course on performance poetry.

Both will last five weeks, coordinated by former members of the SJT’s youth theatre group, Rounders.

Led by Paddy Young, Stand-up Comedy for Beginners will take place from 7pm to 8pm each Monday from March 8 to April 5.

Led by Nadia Emam, the Performance Poetry for Beginners sessions will be held on Tuesdays, on March 9, 16 and 30, then April 6 and 13, from 7pm to 8pm.

Paddy Young is a professional comedian and actor who joined the SJT’s Rounders when he was eight and remained there until heading off to drama school. Since then, he has worked in theatre and television, as well as taking two stand-up shows to the Edinburgh Fringe.

“These workshops will provide a crash course into the mad world of stand-up comedy: performing, writing, how to trick yourself into writing and finding your voice,” says Paddy.

“We’ll look at and discuss some of the best stand-ups in the world while developing your act together. Oh, and we’ll be having a laugh too. By the last session, you will have five minutes of killer material ready to take to the clubs – once they open again!”

“Come along with a pen, a brew and your most delicious words,” says Nadia Emam, inviting participants in her online performance poetry workshops. Picture: Michalina Kubiak

Nadia Emam was a member of Rounders before training at Manchester School of Theatre. She now works as an actor, poet and director based in Sheffield, where she is a supported artist at The Crucible.

Nadia was awarded a placement with the SJT by the Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme, enabling her to curate a sell-out poetry evening celebrating female poets, as well as to deliver poetry workshops for the summer school.

Her debut poetry film won the WEX Short Film Competition and was selected for the BFI’s Northern Exposure Short Film Programme.

“This online workshop will give you a crash-course introduction to writing and performing your own poetry,” Nadia says. “It will be a fun and safe space to explore writing techniques to generate new material and eventually give you the tools to perform your own short piece of poetry.

“We’ll look at various types of performance and guide you to feel comfortable enough to develop your own voice and style. 

“If you’ve dabbled in verse, yet keep your writing a secret and want to move into sharing it, or haven’t glanced at a page of poetry since your school days, but fancy exploring it in a new way, this course is for you. Come along with a pen, a brew and your most delicious words. Anybody can be a poet, don’t you know it!” 

Places on both courses are £35 each, to cover five hour-long online workshops. To book, go to: sjt.uk.com/whatson.

Poets aplenty take part in short films of readings and chat for SJT summer school

A plethora of poets for the Stephen Joseph Theatre’s online film project and summer school

NINE British poets are teaming up with Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre to present three short films showcasing their work.

Taking part are Toby Campion, Martin Daws, Hayley Green, Ray Hearne, Zara Jayne, Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, Otis Mensah,  Nima Taleghani and Beverley Ward.

The three films will be online for a month from 5pm on August 11, 13 and 15, each marking the end of a day of Summer School classes from the SJT. Each one will feature three poets discussing their work and reading at least one of their poems.

Curator Nadia Emam says: “These films feature some fantastic poets from all over the UK, performing a couple of their poems but also including a short interview about them and their work.

“Viewers will get to watch a poetry performance, but also hear a little more about the journey of each poet, which I hope will be an inspiration to anyone curious about writing poetry and making a living from it themselves.”

The nine poetry videos and interviews have been shot individually under lockdown conditions and then edited and tied together into three films by Sheffield filmmaker Brett Chapman. 

Curator Nadia Emam also will lead an hour-long performance poetry workshop at 3pm each day at the Summer School. She was a member of the SJT’s Youth Theatre and is now an actor, poet and director in Sheffield, where she is a Crucible Theatre supported artist.

In addition to Nadia’s poetry workshop and the films, the SJT Summer School includes:

Tuesday, August 11:  Movement and street dance with Marcquelle Ward and puppetry with Andrew Kim, for nine to 13 year olds;

Thursday, August 13: Musical theatre with Alex Weatherhill and HowTo Do Accents with Alix Dunmore, for 14 to 18 year olds;

Saturday, August 15:  Conducting an orchestra (a beginner’s guide) with Shaun Matthew and public speaking with York-born SJT actress Frances Marshall.

Frances Marshall, pictured in Alan Ayckbourn’s Seasons Greetings at the SJT, will host a Summer School session on public speaking

Access to the poetry films is free. To watch, visit the SJT’s YouTube channel from  August 11 at: youtube.com/channel/UCUChChdq-MZrUIqOAhEIB7w.

The SJT’s online Summer School costs £18 per day for all three sessions. Individual sessions can be booked at £7 each. To book, go to: sjt.uk.com/event/1050/online_summer_school_

The poets in profile:

Toby Campion: Poet, playwright, former UK Poetry Slam Champion and World Poetry Slam finalist. His debut collection, Through Your Blood, was longlisted for the Polari First Book Prize.

Recipient of the 2019 Aurora Prize for Poetry, he has performed around the world, at  Glastonbury Festival and on The Arts Show with Jonathan Ross. He will   read Oyster and Nits.

Martin Daws: Active as a spoken-word poet for more than 20 years, performing in the UK, USA and Eire, delivering commissions and residencies and publishing two collections. He was Young People’s Laureate for Wales, 2013 to 2016, and will read Under The Slates, Weekend: Saturday Afternoon and Together.

Hayley Green:  Originally from Nottingham, now based in Scarborough, she performs across the UK and Europe. She teaches poetry and creative writing in schools, colleges and communities, using poetry and creative writing to explore self-harm, mental health, sexuality, gender and identity, often the focus of her own poetry and performance. She will read Changing Rooms and Playtime

Ray Hearne: His poem A Sing Song For Stainless Steel was cut into 14 benches in Sheffield city centre. Now he is working with a stonecutter in Barnsley to devise words for a Grimethorpe Trail.

His songs have been performed and recorded by the late Roy Bailey, Kate Rusby and Coope Boyes and Simpson. The Ballad Of Wentworth and Elsecar awaits publication in autumn 2020. He will read Werewolves Of Rotherham and Living On Broad Yorkshire Street.

Zara Jayne: Started writing at the age of ten when she had her first poem published in Cosmic. Her poems have appeared in the charity magazine Sense and in the book A Blind Bit Of Difference; a short play was put on at a London theatre.

She performed in Martha, Josie And The Chinese Elvis at the SJT in 2019 and will read Ghostlight and A Dirty World.

Zara Jayne, left, as Brenda-Marie, with Emma Churchill, as Josie, in Martha, Josie And The Chinese Elvis at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in 2019.

Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan: Educator, writer and poet from West Yorkshire. Her work disrupts narratives of history, race, knowledge and power, interrogating the political purpose of conversations about Muslims, migrants, gender and violence.

She works to provide herself and others with “the tools to resist systemic oppression by unlearning what society and the education system have instilled in us”. She will read British Values.

Otis Mensah: Self-proclaimed mum’s house philosopher and rap psalmist, offering an alternative take on contemporary hip hop and spoken word.

Shedding light on “existential commonalities through vulnerable expression”, he uses  aesthetic language to paint worlds of thought. Appointed the first poet laureate of Sheffield by former Lord Mayor and MEP Magid Magid, he will read Ode To Black Thought and Shifting Sands.

Nima Taleghani: Actor, writer and workshop facilitator. Theatre and screen credits include Romeo And Juliet and The Merry Wives Of Windsor(RSC), Hatton Garden (ITV) and Casualty (BBC).

A selector and London Ambassador for the National Student Drama Festival, Nima will read King Arthur and This City.

Beverley Ward: Writer, facilitator and coach who writes poetry, fiction and non-fiction and is passionately in love with the creative process of writing.

She has run writing workshops for adults and children for more than 20 years and has her own writers’ workshop in Sheffield and a retreat in Bridlington.

She has published poems, stories and two books: Archie Nolan: Family Detective, for children, and the memoir Dear Blacksmith. She will read What If, The Swing In An Empty Playground and Poem For Kids Leaving Primary School.

The curator: Nadia Emam was awarded a placement last year with the Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme at the SJT, where she curated the poetry evening Still I Rise, celebrating female poets. Her debut poetry film won the WEX Short Film Competition and was part of BFI’s Northern

SJT and National Literacy Trust unite for young writers’ online project Your Stories

Author Saviour Pirotta. Online story creation adventure. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

THE Stephen Joseph Theatre and the National Literacy Trust are calling on young writers across North Yorkshire to tell Your Stories.

Children’s author Saviour Pirotta, actor and poet Nadia Emam and illustrator Simon Whittaker are on the team for this new project: an online story creation adventure for five to 12 year olds.

For six weeks from Monday, June 1, daily content will be released via the National Literacy Trust’s local Facebook page to encourage creativity through story creation and reading for young people along the North Yorkshire coast.

This will include exercises on how to create characters and settings, such as storytelling bingo, role-playing, drawing comic strips and sound recording, and using all kinds of everyday things to create the adventure.

There will be short vlogs from Saviour Pirotta, writer of children’s novels The Orchard Book Of First Greek Myths, The Ancient Greek Mysteries Series and The Unicorn Prince, and Nadia Emam, who has worked extensively at the SJT and with Slung Low Theatre Company, including playing Gloriana in the BBC’s televised version of the Leeds company’s Flood: Part 2.

The pair also will give dramatic readings of some of the submitted stories and recommended books in the form of accessible e-books and audiobooks.

Nadia Emam: Dramatic readings

At the end of each week, illustrator Simon Whittaker, from House Of Deadleg, will create drawings based on stories submitted. He also will give video tutorials on creating illustrations.

The SJT’s associate director, Chelsey Gillard, says: “Participants can choose to engage every day, or just dip in and out as they like. By the end of the six weeks, they will have all they need to create an exciting adventure set in their hometown.

“Our artist will create illustrations of the characters and settings of the stories, as well as drawing elements from them to create one brilliant mega story curated by Saviour Pirotta.”

Liz Dyer, Our Stories manager, says: “We can’t wait to hear your stories. We’re thrilled to be partnering with the Stephen Joseph Theatre on this project. Having the tools to tell your own story builds confidence in young people that supports them at school, at home and in the future.”

To take part in Your Stories, simply visit the Our Stories website.

The National Literacy Trust’s local Facebook page is: facebook.com/Our-Stories-Whitby-Scarborough-Filey-115012336805179/.