Are you ready for Folk Horror February?

Staff, students and members of the public are invited to join the #FolkHorrorFeb reading challenge.

Join Professor Robert Edgar (Creative Writing) and Dr Adam J Smith (English Literature) for the virtual February Folk Horror Reading Circle.

Following the recent publication of the Routledge Companion to Folk Horror (edited by Robert Edgar and Wayne Johnson and featuring an essay written by Adam J Smith) and leading into a day of Folk Horror events at this year’s York Literature Festival, Adam and Rob will be reading one short story a week for the next for weeks, and you can read along too!

Each story is taken from Circles of Stone: Weird Tales of Pagan Sites and Ancient Rites, a recently published anthology of stories spanning from the 19th to the 21st centuries.

Circles of Stone was edited by Dr Katy Soar, who you can and come see live in conversation with Adam at the York Literature Festival on 2 March (reserve your free space here).

To get involved, all you need is to follow our reading schedule and post your thoughts, reflections, favourite quotes or book photos using #FolkHorrorFeb on Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), BlueSky or TikTok (or just read along in the privacy of your own mind/email Adam and Rob with your thoughts).

 #FolkHorrorFeb Reading Schedule


3-9th Feb The Spirit of Stonehenge by Rosalie Helen Muspratt (writing as Jasper John)
10-16th Feb The Tarn of Sacrifice by Algernon Blackwood
17-23rd Feb The Dark Land by Mary Williams
24th Feb-1st March Minuke by Nigel Kneale

LGBT History Month Events at YSJ

Non binary person in floral top looks at camera

Let’s celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month!

February is LGBTQ+ History Month!

We are very excited to celebrate and there’s a lot to get hyped about at YSJ:


Free Speech and Hate Speech: Analysing ‘anti-gender’ Discourse

7th February 2024, 4:30-5:30pm, Creative Centre Auditorium

This LGBTQ+ History Month talk focuses on what is commonly referred to as homophobic and transphobic ‘soft hate speech’ which (unlike ‘hard’ hate) operates within the limits of the law and may be perceived as ‘sayable’ in the public sphere. This makes it more difficult to recognize and challenge. This talk is being given by our very own Helen Sauntson (Professor of English Language and Linguistics) and is going to be a must-be-at event. Book your ticket here:

In Conversation with Dom&Ink

Tuesday 13th February, 6-8pm, Creative Centre Auditorium

Come along and listen to illustrator and author Dom&Ink talk about their work, from illustrating RuPaul’s Drag Race for the BBC to writing their new graphic novel. Dom will be interviewed by Lali from York’s own The Portal Bookshop, and the event will be followed by a book signing and drinks reception. Book your ticket here: 

Can you Adam and Eve It? Queering Heterosexuality in Genesis

Wednesday 21st February, 4-6pm, Creative Centre

Join us at York St John University for this hybrid event to mark LGBT History Month 2024. Hosted by the Centre for Religion in Society, hear Dr Chris Greenough’s talk, ‘Can you Adam and Eve it? Queering Heterosexuality in the Genesis Narrative’, followed by Q+A and a drinks reception. Book your tickets here:


“Thinking Big Thoughts: A Showcase of Trans and Non-binary Scholarship”- Call-out for participants!

Transgender flag in blue white pink and words Transgender Day of VisibilityOn Wednesday 13th March 2-4pm, in the run-up to Transgender Day of Visibility, the LGBTQ+ Staff Network and the Athena Swan Initiative are holding a hybrid event to celebrate trans and non-binary scholarship at York St John University. This will be an informal, supportive space where all members of staff and students who are trans, non-binary, gender-diverse or are creating work related to these communities are encouraged to take part and share their work. Whether you are a first-year undergrad with an essay you’d like to share or a seasoned academic, we want to hear from you!

We welcome our London staff and student scholars to join the event, as hybrid presentations are possible.

This is a supportive space for trans, non-binary or gender-diverse scholars and students to share their work. If you know of anyone (staff or students) at YSJ who would be interested in presenting their work, we want to celebrate your contribution to the YSJ community. For more information, please contact Naomi Orrell at

Words Matter Prize 2023

This year, the Words Matter prize is being awarded to two recipients. For the first time, the English Literature team are recognizing outstanding academic achievement by students completing the first year of their degree in both single honours and joint honours cohorts.

This year’s winners are English Literature student Maddison ‘Madz’ Warley and English Literature and Creative Writing student Amy Platt.

Level Four co-ordinator Dr Fraser Mann says:

“Madz and Amy are both superb students. Their dedication to the subject and their participation in university life are admirable. They have made rapid and remarkable progress and deserve real recognition for this success. They are both an asset to English Literature at York St John.”

On receiving news of the award, a delighted Madz said:

“I put off university for years over fears it wouldn’t be the right environment for me, so winning this genuinely means the world to me. It’s total Rory Gilmore vibes. The first year of university has truly been one of the best experiences of my life. The English Literature team have been so supportive and I’ve enjoyed every lecture and seminar. Thank you to every friend and lecturer that has supported me so far.”

Amy was equally happy and said:

“Receiving the Words Matter Prize is such an honour and something that I will treasure forever. I feel as though it is only fair that I express my gratitude to everyone who has made this journey possible. To every lecturer, tutor, peer, and friend, thank you for making my first year at university the most wonderful and rewarding experience.”

Madz and Amy will receive their awards during this year’s Words Matter Lecture. We would like to congratulate them on their success and wish them all the best for the rest of their degrees.

Upcoming Event: Annual YSJ Words Matter Lecture, ‘Speculations on Embodiment’

Liesl King is a white woman with long red hair and a smileThis year’s YSJ Literature’s annual Words Matter Lecture  will be delivered by Dr Liesl King, speaking about ‘Speculations on Embodiment’ . This will take place on Thursday 7th December, starting at 6pm, with a drinks reception at 7pm. 

This year’s lecture will explore ways in which the word ‘embodiment’ has inspired Dr Liesl King’s teaching practice, university projects, and publications. She will consider the representation of embodied living in the fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin, the ‘tertium quid’ in Dr Angela Voss’ approach to classroom teaching, and the concept of ‘sensuous knowledge’ advanced by Minna Salami in her critical work of the same name published in 2020. The presentation will look at three ways in which Liesl, sometimes through hindsight, has drawn on the word ‘embodiment’ to inform her approach to academic practice: her online science fiction magazine, Terra Two: An Ark for Off World Survival, her upcoming co-written guidebook on Speculative Fiction (New Critical Idiom series, Routledge), and her nascent project on the ‘Embodied University’.

For more details and to sign up, please refer to the Eventbrite:

One writer leads you to another – discovering Lemn Sissay’s ‘Let the Light Pour In’ by Anna Brizzolara

Anna Brizzolara is a student on the YSJ Creative Writing MA who has recently been focussing on Critical Approaches to Creative Writing. This is Anna’s review of Lemn Sissay’s recent poetry reading at Manchester Literature Festival. Sissay’s adaptation of Kafka’s Metamorphosis is coming to York Theatre Royal 10th-14th October 2023.

a man in a yellow suit performs on a large stage
Lemn Sissay performing at Home, Manchester (c) Anna Brizzolara

I wanted tickets to see Zadie Smith.

That’s how I found Lemn Sissay.

He shared the programme for the Manchester Literature Festival alongside Zadie’s sold-out event.

Lemn hosted an evening at ‘Home’. Home, a theatre, gallery, independent film screen and all-round centre of creativity and culture that had a cosy, community feel. It opened in 2015 in the heart of Manchester; relaxed, no fancy wine list, plenty of craft beer and pots of pic ‘n’ mix. Volunteers in printed T-shirts smiled, ushered you along brushed concrete corridors and showed you to your multi-coloured upholstered seats.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. Continue reading “One writer leads you to another – discovering Lemn Sissay’s ‘Let the Light Pour In’ by Anna Brizzolara”

ESEA Heritage Month 2023: Books to Read and Films to Watch

Dr Saffron Vickers Walkling introduces titles to look out for this ESEA Heritage Month and beyond.  Saffron lived and worked in China for five years, and their research area includes late twentieth century Chinese Shakespeare in performance.

September is East and South East Asian Heritage Month. Founded in 2021 by Britain’s East and South East Asian Network (besea.n), it commemorates “those who have contributed positively to British society” and celebrates “the richness of ESEA culture”, says Michelle Chan. 

In alphabetical order, East Asian and South East Asian countries include: Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Mongolia, North Korea, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam. 

Besea.n say that their “vision is one where our communities are seen and supported in all spaces”. This includes the sold out ESEA Lit Fest at Foyles Bookshop in London, which started on 23rd September 2023.    

Here are some highlights from their Reading List: 

A Lover's DiscourseA Lover’s Discourse by Xiaolu Guo tells of a Chinese woman’s life in London, reflecting on the nature of cross-cultural love and language. The title references Roland Barthes’ book of the same name, and its Cantonese film adaptation. Novelist and filmmaker Guo came to YSJ in 2008 as part of our China Week to speak about her debut English-language novel A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, which our first years were studying on their Gender and Writing module. Although not a sequel, A Lover’s Discourse revisits and reframes many of the tropes of the earlier book. Her film She, A Chinese is also currently showing on Channel 4. 

Night Sky with Exit WoundsNight Sky with Exit Wounds is a collection of poetry by the Vietnamese-American writer and academic Ocean Vuong, reflecting on his refugee experience – both its horrors and its wonders.

Vuong’s novel On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous sustained us through the long holiday of 2021 as our Big Summer Read. See more here.


YellowfaceIf you want something that will shock and amuse you in equal measures, check out Yellowface by R. F. Kuang, a hilarious satire on the ultimate in literary cultural appropriation…

This bestseller combines big ideas with humour and is simultaneously thought-provoking and immensely readable! 



Never Let Me GoIf you’ve never read Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, then now is the time to remedy this.

A firm A-level favourite for many years, Ishiguro’s novel about a group of young people at an English boarding school quickly reveals the dystopian side of its apparent idyllic setting. 



Ping Pong (1986 film) - WikipediaIf it’s film you are interested in, Channel 4 has a selection for ESEA, including the first ever British Chinese feature film, Ping Pong, which I’ve reviewed here. “Elaine Choi (Sheen), a trainee lawyer tasked with executing the will of local businessman Sam Wong, whose body has been found in a telephone box, receiver still in hand. The trouble is, she can’t read Chinese characters.”



You can find Film 4’s complete ESEA listings here:

#PRIDE2023: SHAKESPEARE? MORE LIKE SHAKESQUEER! RuPaul’s Drag Race by Roger Tomas Arques

Drag Queen RuPaul in Shakespeare inspired drag
Image via @RuPaulsDragRace

“To she, or not to she?” Spanish ERASMUS exchange student Roger Tomas Arques recently took our Shakespeare Perspectives module. For Pride Season 2023, he looks at the connections between Shakespeare’s theatre and Ru Paul’s Drag Race

Recently, I was watching RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars 8’s new episode as I do every Friday and then I thought something. Did you know that when watching RuPaul’s Drag Race you are seeing a Shakespearean thing? 

Image from the British Library collection: Mark Rylance getting into costume as Olivia for Shakespeare’s Globe’s all male production of Twelfth Night.

“Drag may trace its roots to the age of William Shakespeare, when female roles were performed by men”. In Shakespeare’s times, women were not allowed to be on stage, so men were playing women’s roles. During those days acting was not considered a very refined work, so if a woman acted, she would be considered a sex worker. As Shakespeare’s contemporary said, “Our Players are not as the players beyond sea, a sort of squirting baudie Comedians.” (Thomas Nashe) However, it was not just a costumes thing. The writer had to find men that could perfectly represent a woman with their gestures, movements, and so on.

Now drag has changed and everyone can do it.   Continue reading “#PRIDE2023: SHAKESPEARE? MORE LIKE SHAKESQUEER! RuPaul’s Drag Race by Roger Tomas Arques”

Tommy Parker on Ageing, Maturity and Embracing Change

Content warning: This personal reflection deals with issues of PTSD and suicidal thoughts. Links for support are provided at the bottom of the post. 

 Second Year Creative Writing student Tommy Parker reflects upon his own experiences as a mature student returning to York St John to begin a second degree course. 

Copyright York St John

Walking through the city, enjoying a 71% Ecuador hot chocolate with chilli and Captain Morgans, while listening to Alestorm has given me a rare chance for silent reflection. The theme of this years creative writing project, the Beyond the Wall’s anthology, is ageing, a subject that is often on my mind as a mature student. In particular, I often find myself dwelling on my perceived failings, feeling I have not accomplished enough in my late twenties to justify my continued existence on this planet. It is in rare moments such as now that give me the opportunity to escape my own head, allowing me clarity to see that life is not a line graph. Age does not equal maturity in itself, and you cannot simply look at a graph for it. Life is not as simple as AGE + MATURITY = STAGE IN LIFE. Over my time at York St John I have come to understand that the true determining factor of emotional maturity is life experience. Continue reading “Tommy Parker on Ageing, Maturity and Embracing Change”

Michael Colk: Macbeth Review for YISF

Flabbergast Macbeth (c) Mike Lynch

Michael is a second year Creative Writing and Media student at York St John and a volunteer blog reviewer for York International Shakespeare Festival. In this review, Michael looks at Flabbergast Theatre’s production of ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’ performed in the York St John Creative Centre on the 26th of April 2023. 

Shakespeare gets a bad reputation in my opinion. From the time were born we are told that he was and is the greatest writer that has ever come from this country, that every work he’s ever written is a masterpiece. So we must diligently study his texts and analyse them, we must perform them with the utmost respect for the source material. This leads to a lot of people hating Shakespeare and condemning it as dry or boring or too difficult to understand or… you get the idea. But actually, Shakespeare can be fun. 

I’ve always loved Macbeth, I studied it in high school so it’s one of the few Shakespeare plays I actually know and understand. I’ve always loved Lady Macbeth as a character, the ideas of betrayal and guilt that get explored, the context in which the play itself was written, but I’ve never seen that many performances of it. I watched a few films that played with the setting but not in any way other than superficially and there was a touring group who performed a few fight scenes from it in my school assembly hall which was quite entertaining, but this was the first time I’d seen a full stage production of it and I really enjoyed it. 

The whole thing felt like watching a bunch of kids playing pretend in the muddy parts of some dense woods. It really hit me in the scene where Macbeth kills Duncan, the actors all pulled out small sticks for daggers and it reminded me of running through this forest near the top of the street of my childhood home. I’d brandish my own sticks as swords and duel with my sister or use them as ways of clearing my treacherous path on the long (short) journey it took to walk down to the corner shop to claim my reward (a pick a mix bag usually containing a jelly snake, my favourite). Despite the tragedy of the story, the performers all seemed to be so joyous and enthusiastic about what they were doing, they had the permission to run around, shout and scream just as kids do.

Macbeth and witches
Flabbergast Macbeth (c) Mike Lynch

It also brought back these ideas of the roots of storytelling sitting around a fire in the darkness, the primal and animalistic nature that is inherent in performance. At times, the whole show felt like one big ritual, the witches and supernatural being such a strong part of the original play definitely contributed to this but the rhythmic chanting and general atmosphere brought by the performers made it a much more intimate experience. At times it was almost psychedelic, with lights and shadows being cast everywhere, the only thing I think could have made it more intense would have been a fog machine.

The one thing I was anticipating the entire time throughout the show was the Porter’s scene that takes place just after Duncan’s murder. The Porter is there to add levity to the otherwise dark narrative and in my experience often goes overlooked when read or performed because as we all know ‘Shakespeare is a prestigious institution’. But I think a few lewd jokes after a murder has just taken place is quite necessary. I can honestly say that in this performance, the Porter’s scenes were some of my favourite moments. These scenes were the only point at which the script diverged from the original but it still captured the same humour of the source material. It again reminded me of a child, running about making jokes out of nothing and interjecting at inappropriate moments because they don’t know any better. 

So, despite the dark and tragic nature of Macbeth and the play itself I would have to say that this production did indeed make Shakespeare fun.

If you would like to read another review of ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’, check out Grace Laidler’s piece on the Words Matter Blog: Grace Laidler: Macbeth Review for YISF – Words Matter. (

“Uncut Leaves”: On Literature and Its Uses – 2022 Words Matter Lecture on YouTube

The Annual Words Matter Lecture on YouTube

You might be interested to know that Dr Adam J Smith’s Words Matter lecture is available to view and listen on YouTube: click here!

Adam’s lecture in October last year considered the “uses” of literature as protest, propaganda and satire, and warned of the dangers of not reading the book. It was a fantastic event, so if you missed it, catch up – or if you’d like to relive the moment, watch again!

Grace Laidler: Macbeth Review for YISF

Grace is a first year Film and Television Production student at York St John and a volunteer blog reviewer for York International Shakespeare Festival. In this review, Grace looks at Flabbergast Theatre’s production of ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’ performed in the York St John Creative Centre on the 26th of April 2023. 

Flabbergast Theatre’s ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’ creates an unsettling yet powerful retelling of one of Shakespeare’s most violent tragedies, leaving you feeling unseam’d from the nave to the chops.

Flabbergast Theatre Macbeth (c) Mike Lynch

Before the audience are seated, the performers immediately plunge us into their unconventional methods, telling us the story of the tragedy through a series of interpretive dances and nonsensical sounds. Standouts from this prologue are the formation of hands used above Macbeth’s head to form a crown and the use of the long skirts pulled over the performers heads to create what looks like a ghost-like  being crawling eerily around the stage.

These long skirts are part of the barren, arresting aesthetic adopted by Flabbergast, reminiscent of Robert Eggers’ 2022 film ‘The Northman.’ The stage is dressed only with a stained white sheet on the floor. The simplicity of the set allows the performers to have a much creative freedom as possible to create a visceral show, as there is more than one instance when a wine-like substance is either spat onto the sheet or into the face of another performer.

Each cast member wears a pair of pants underneath the long skirts, allowing for them to effectively switch between characters seamlessly with minimal physical changes. As the performance only consisted of six performers, many performers doubled in roles. A standout for me was Briony O’Callaghan’s chilling performance as Lady Macbeth, but also as one of the Weird Sisters. Her demeanour when playing both roles did not differ too greatly, which I believe positively added to the notion of Lady Macbeth’s cruelty being witch-like. Her delivery of Lady Macbeth’s final soliloquy was impeccable, and I was holding my breath at the prospect of her holding a lit candle so close to a highly-flammable sheet.

Another standout performance was that of Dale Wylde, who transformed the tragedy into a pantomime with his performance as The Porter, the dreaded character of GCSE students everywhere. His take on The Porter saw him as a clown, who broke the fourth wall and brought us to tears of laughter by simply showing us an apple. However, one of the most profound and horrifying moments was when Wylde portrayed a soldier that had just brutally murdered Macduff’s wife, then immediately snaps back into becoming the joking Porter again. The apple was back, but the laughter was a lot shakier this time.

The performance incorporates plenty of horror elements, particularly with the lighting. There is a harsh front light that is used to brightly illuminate the faces of whoever is giving a monologue, making their faces look gaunt and hollow. It accentuates the madness seen in the eyes of Macbeth in particular, who is often lit by a bloody red lighting that makes him impossible to look away from. Alongside its effect on the performers, this front lighting creates a shadow on the black curtain behind the stage, creating a spooky, haunting element to the show that unsettles us even further.

The most horrifying element of all is the use of a wooden puppet boy, used to depict Banquo’s son Fleance. The prop has no head, which is instead depicted with a white mask, and is carried around the stage using a large wooden stick or is cradled in the arms of the performers. It is a fascinating choice to use such abstract puppetry and it certainly became a talking point for most audience members. The bottom line on that is that it needs to be seen to be believed.

The performance is accompanied by the use three large drums, a set of gongs and smaller chime instruments, which are all visibly noticeable on-stage. All of these instruments are utilised heavily, alongside an acapella-style score created by the performers. It is truly impressive how the performers can morph from actor to crew member, using their musical skills to make scenes more exciting and immersive.

Overall, Flabbergast’s ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’ can take a while to get into due to its overwhelming nature, but once you are immersed, you will want to stay to the bloody end. It has everything you could want in a Shakespeare adaptation: enough fidelity to the original text so that you will understand the story and hear those wonderfully crafted lines; but also offers a fresh, modern twist through the use of horror elements, barren sets and highly unconventional props. I would recommend it, although you might sleep no more.

Works Cited

The Tragedy of Macbeth by W. Shakespeare (2023) Directed by H. Maynard [York St John University, York. 26 April].

The Northman (2022) Directed by R. Eggers. [Feature film]. Universal City, CA: Universal Pictures.

If you would like to read another review of ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’, check out Jenny-Rose Morrison’s piece on the York International Shakespeare Festival’s website: Life’s But A Walking Shadow: A Review of Flabbergast’s Macbeth by Jenny-Rose Morrison – York International Shakespeare Festival (

York International Shakespeare Festival at York St John University, Week 9.

York International Shakespeare Festival runs between 21st April and 1st May 2023. 

A message from Dr Saffron Vickers Walking, York International Shakespeare Festival Advisor and Senior Lecturer in English Literature at York St John University.    

are delighted to continue working closely with the York International Shakespeare Festival (@YorkShakes) for its 2023 edition. This year, we have a number of exciting, award-winning productions coming to the main stage in our new Creative Centre, and we are honoured to be showcasing the production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream from Ukraine. Alongside this we are hosting workshops, readings, talks, displays and our afternoon exploring Shakespeare (andSanctuary. This festival aligns closely with York St John University’s commitment to social justice, inclusion and diversity, and in these sometimes divisive times, we celebrate how Shakespeare can bring us together. So come and join us!  Booking information below. If you are on social media, please follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

York International Shakespeare Festival have ensured that the tickets for all events at York St John venues are affordable to encourage student and community engagement. We have a small number of complimentary tickets for any York St John student who is facing financial hardship in this cost of living crisis. We also have some complimentary tickets for volunteers. Please email Saffron as soon as possible. Scroll down for the email address and for information about volunteering opportunities.  The festival has also provided a number of work placements for students on the department’s employability module.

We also have a Pass It On ticket scheme to support refugees and asylum seekers finding sanctuary in Yorkshire to attend the productions at York St John University. In particular, we anticipate strong interest in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, so please consider getting a ticket to pass on, and sharing this scheme with your contacts. Further details here.

Productions here at York St John University’s Creative Centre

Macbeth and witches
Flabberghast Macbeth (c) Mike Lynch

Macbeth by Flabbergast Theatre, 8pm Wednesday 26th April, concessions £5. Information and ticket booking here. Playing to their strengths and background in puppetry, clown, mask, ensemble and physical theatre, Flabbergast have developed their first text-based production (with extensive R&D with Wilton’s Musical Hall London and Grotowski Institute Poland) to foster the bard’s original text accompanied by and supported with exhilarating live music to produce a provocative and enjoyably accessible show. In English.


Titania the fairy queen
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (c) Molodyy

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by the Kyiv National Academic Molodyy Theatre, 8pm Friday 28th April, concessions £5. Information and ticket booking here. How does the well-known romantic comedy by Shakespeare sound in the context of a Ukrainian traditional rite? In the global narrative, we locate the key to the national code and adapt it to the present. We establish parallels with our historical stories by changing the major characters from Greeks to Ukrainians.

A man in a VR mask with outspread arms
Truth’s A Dog Must to Kennel (c) Stuart Armitt

Other events include:

Molodyy Theatre Open Workshop for Actors and Theatre Makers (you can be an audience member for this), 10am Saturday 29th April. Pay what you can. Information and ticket booking here. Followed by Molodyy Theatre Making Theatre In Ukraine Today Q&A, 12 noon Saturday 29th April. Pay what you can. Information and ticket booking here.

Shakespeare (and) Sanctuary curated by Saffron Vickers Walkling and Nicoleta Cinpoes. 2pm Saturday 29th April. Free. Information and booking here. An afternoon of talks, presentations and discussion exploring elements of Shakespeare and Social Justice, presented by York St John University, the European Shakespeare Research Association and the York International Shakespeare Festival.

If you are interested in global work inspired by Shakespeare, then you can attend the free introduction to and staged reading of Marin Sorecu’s play Cousin Shakespeare, translated from Romanian into English. 4.30 and 6pm, Wednesday 26th April. Information and booking here.

York St John’s library will also have a display to reflect the York International Shakespeare Festival and showcase our resources.

There are many other wonderful events across the city of York – click here for the full York International Shakespeare Festival programme and here for the York International Shakespeare Festival Brochure . There is an all-day sonnet marathon, Shakespeare stand-up, community theatre, Shakespeare’s Fool, Riding Light’s production of Richard III, book launches, European plays in translation, symposium, Shakespeare storytelling for children, theatre workshops, exhibitions and more – so something for everyone. 

YSJ Volunteering Opportunities: 

We have a number of exciting volunteer opportunities for you and would love to hear from you as soon as possible!

Be a part of our FOCUS GROUP: go to between 4 and 8 events across the festival, including some of the productions at YSJ, and we will follow up with a couple of meetings with you to discuss your feedback (and some simple forms for you to fill in to help us get an idea of the impact of the festival). We have some complimentary tickets available.  

Write a blog post for either the English Literature blog, Words Matter, or the YorkShakes blog. Let us know which play or event you would like to review. We have some complimentary tickets available.  

Please email Saffron for either of these options:  

YISF Volunteering Opportunities:

There are many and varied volunteer opportunities festival wide, including festival preparation in the run up to the festival and front of house during the festival. Email Artistic Director Philip Parr for further details:  

International Women’s Day by Polly Reed

Polly Reed is a second year undergraduate student on the English Literature programme at York St John University. She is also a feminist poet. Here she reflects on her experience of going back to visit her high school for International Women’s Day.

‘A Man’s World’ by Polly Reed

I was recently asked to go into my old school (Ponteland High School), for international women’s day to talk to 40 young women on my experiences since leaving school and my writing career. My school nominated me two years ago for an award for international women’s day and I won the Northumberland’s most inspirational young women’s award due to my sporting and academic achievements, whilst also being noticed for my volunteering work. I had previously helped my mum coach children and young adults with disabilities, developing their social and physical skills that are crucial in everyday life. I had also volunteered as a netball coach at the local primary school, whilst being a part of the charity committee in sixth form. Being noticed for this was a huge privilege, and it was through this event I heard about other women’s experiences, and what they do to raise awareness on important topical issues.

This was one of the events that inspired me to voice my own opinions and experiences on being a woman. Since then, I’ve done many open mics, sharing my own feminist poetry to diverse audiences. The response I’ve received from many individuals has encouraged me to continue writing poetry and fiction in the hopes that other women can relate to my work and educate others on the injustices that women experience.

‘Sweetly-Sour Girlhood’ by Polly Reed

I was thrilled to be invited back to school and have this opportunity to share my work with students, whilst encouraging them to write, voice, and think about their own opinion on feminist matters. The event included a range of women who were spreading awareness on important matters. For example, a solicitor, business owner and a probation officer. One woman had created a business using wasted plastic to create art, showing the environmental impact waste can have.

The feedback I got on my poetry from the students was incredible. Many of them had questions on how I go about writing, where I get my inspiration from, and what made me want to express and explore these matters within my writing. To see so many young girls intrigued and interested in the themes explored within my work was hugely rewarding, and I hope the sharing of my poetry and the discussions we had, encourages them to use and find their own voice on the inequality that occurs towards women.