Literary festival success for Open Academy, Sprowston



Visiting authors, singers and literary experts inspired Open Academy students at their recent Literary Festival.

The week began with a visit from Louis Buxton, from the Norwich Writers’ Centre, who discussed the concept of creating a character through a carefully stepped approach to writing.

Experts provided by BBC Voices were also busy with a group of film students who created three videos whose stars included vice principal Betsy Fowler in her alter ego as Joyce Grenfell.  These have been uploaded to the website.

Students were introduced to Lilie Ferrari, whose literary credentials include writing for TV series EastEnders, Casualty and Holby City.  She is hoping to launch a new soap soon, on one of the digital TV channels, which was originally set in Eaton Park. Lilie is also a writer and demonstrated to students the difficulties of selecting an appropriate book cover.

Local author Heidi Jo Swain inspired students with writing workshops.  Heidi has recently had her fourth book published, Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage, and one of her books has been released in Germany.

Singer/songwriter Tom Ryder, whose soulful voice has earned him recognition from rock superstar Rod Stewart, performed original songs for the students.

Students discussed and created their own comics after a workshop led by Dr Epstein, a University of East Anglia expert in the genre.

And local theatre group the Garage put students through their paces to create some Oompa Loompa dances to be performed as part of a production at the end of term.

The week also gave students a chance to showcase their own work. A Literary Death Match was fought to the bitter end with only three marks separating first, second and third place entries.

Year 7 students became film directors and, having come up with ideas for new films, they pitched their ideas to a highly-critical staff team of dragons. The winners created a comedy horror called Knock Knock Scream!

Interesting examples of slam poetry were created by Year 9 students. The winning entry, Slithering Snakes, was an insightful metaphorical poem about being led astray by fake friends.

The week finished with an afternoon of performance by Year 7 students who had spent the day rehearsing a summarised version of Romeo and Juliet. The Oompa Loompas and the Year 8 cast of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory also gave Year 7 pupils a taster of the eagerly-anticipated end-of-term show.

“The response to the Literary Festival by the students has been amazing this year,” said Angela Taylor, head of English.


Literary talent at Open Academy festival

Some of the county’s best and most diverse literary talent will visit Open Academy, Norwich, during the sixth Literary Festival running from July 3 to 7.

Events begin with a From the Horses’ Mouth workshop run by The Norwich Writers’ Centre, which will involve students investigating the life of Anna Sewell. On July 4, former scriptwriter of EastEnders, Casualty and Holby City and novelist, Lilie Ferrari, will be taking students through the difficult process of creating an effective book cover.

On July 5, increasingly popular writer Heidi Jo Swain, whose work has just been published in Germany as well as England, will be introducing students to the concept of using their favourite books as a platform for writing and July 6 will see UEA’s Dr Epstein discussing the comic genre with some enthusiastic students.

In addition, members of The Garage in Norwich will be putting a cast of Oompah Loompahs through their paces for their supporting performance in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which will be performed later in the month.

Not to be limited to purely literary scripts, singer and songwriter Tom Ryder will be performing and discussing the art of songwriting.

Students will also be doing literary battle when they showcase their talents in a Literary Death Match, a Director’s Challenge and a Slam Poetry Competition to be held in school during the week.

“The aim of the week is to help students develop their own literary skills,” said Angela Taylor, Head of EPAC Faculty at Open Academy.