Student Hosts Author Event: Mental Health Awareness Week

Content Warning: Discussions of Suicide and Bereavement
For this year’s Mental Health Awareness week, second-year English Literature student Cameron Stewart recounts his experience of hosting an author event with a focus on mental health. 

“On Tuesday the 9th of April, at the Penrith Town Library I was very fortunate to host an author event in my hometown, where I met with Andy Airey, one of the ‘three dads’ from the organisation: ‘3 Dads Walking’. 3 Dads Walking does fantastic work in raising awareness and preventing young suicide, having undertaken three national walks and amassed over a million pounds in support for the mental health charity Papyrus. Their debut book, ‘300 Miles of Hope,’ released in April, provided the focal point for our conversation. Andy has been a friend of mine for a few years and we have done charity work together. Not only was it an opportunity to dedicate time to raising awareness, but the author’s event was also a good opportunity from a literature student’s point of view to discuss the book with him. 

The event was really popular with 60 attendees who collectively contributed £200 towards the vital work of ‘3 Dads Walking.’ I am hoping to host a similar event this Autumn at the Minster where we hope to host all 3 Dads. This is still in the planning stages.”

Image of Andy Ariey from '3 Dads Walking', the Sheriff of Cumbria, and student Cameron Stewart in front of a display of books
Photograph Provided by Cameron Stewart
Learn more about 3 Dads Walking here
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YISF 2024 Through the Eyes of our Literature at Work Placement Students 

Here at York St John University, we are extremely proud to announce our official sponsorship of the York International Shakespeare Festival for its 2024 edition. After the resounding success of last year’s festival, we continue to bring innovative, exciting Shakespeare/Shakespeare inspired productions to the main stage in our YSJ Creative Centre. Several of our students are taking part in work placements with the festival via the Literature at Work module. Here is their overview of the events they have been working on. The YISF 2024 edition runs from 18th-28th April. Student concessions are only £5! Some events are free to attend. Programme information can be found here (click through individual events to book). Pick up a copy of our beautiful brochure! And if you want to get involved, either now or in the future, please get in touch. If you want to review any events for our blogs, please email and 

BECOMING OTHELLO by Debra-Ann Byrd introduced by Dulcie Welsh (Artist Liaison)  

African American actress plays OthelloCome see the UK premiere of Debra Ann Byrd’s critically acclaimed one woman show Becoming Othello: A Black Girl’s Journey, in which she combines Shakespeare’s verse with song and memoir to tell her story. Debra-Ann also founded the Harlem Shakespeare Festival in New York, which supports emerging and professional artists of colour in classical theatre. She will also be providing a performance for visiting schools.   

Purchase your tickets here for £15 or £5 for students and concessions. Join us on the 24th of April (7:30 p.m.) and the 25th of April (11:30 a.m.) at York St John Creative Centre Auditorium for an unforgettable experience.  

In addition, there is to be a talk by Debra Ann-Byrd in conversation in which she will discuss My Black Girl’s Journey. This event will give people the opportunity to reflect on Debra-Ann’s work and to ask any questions during the discussion afterwards, which is to be hosted by Dr Anne-Marie, Head of Humanities. This will be held in the YSJ Creative Centre Auditorium on Wednesday the 25th of April, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Book your free ticket here.  

TWELTH NIGHT by Footsbarn Theatre, introduced by Victoria Walpole (Artist Liaison)  

Footsbarn is coming to the York International Shakespeare Festival for their worldWoman dressed as a man stands near the sea premiere performance of Shakespeare Twelfth Night! Footsbarn is one of the world’s leading travelling theatre companies and specialises in performing in untraditional performance spaces – they usually travel with a circus big top!  Directed by Sadie Jemmett, this production promises to be a unique and vibrant interpretation of the play, exploring gender identity in a thought-provoking way. With spectacles of live music, original songs, and classic comedy clowning, this highly anticipated performance is not to be missed!    

Don’t wait, buy your tickets here for £15 or £5 for students and concessions. Join us on the 27th of April (7:30 p.m.) and 28th April (2:00 p.m.) at York St John Creative Centre Auditorium for an unforgettable experience. 

Conferences and Symposiums introduced by Esme Bainbridge (Events Organiser)   

Young female academicI’ve been liaising with visiting academics, speakers and panel participants as organiser of the Shakespeare and Identity Symposium which I am convening with Dr Saffron Vickers Walkling. This symposium will be held in The Creative Centre at York St John University on Saturday the 27th of April, 2:00 pm – 6 pm. There will be a wide range of guest speakers, including Dr Varsha Panjwani, discussing the theme of identity in the context of the Indian changling boy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and panels of artists from Ukraine to the UK discussing Shakespeare’s work. Book your free tickets here. There are opportunities for students and staff to speak on one of the panels. If you are interested do get in touch with Esme (  

 In addition to this event, we are also hosting a range of workshops, readings, talks, and displays. With content ranging from a Turkish Production of Macbeth to a celebration of Shakespeare in European Communities – a day of clebration and discovery with those who are making the work – this festival aligns closely with York St John University’s commitment to social justice, inclusion and diversity.  

Shakespeare Exhibitions introduced by Grace Tanner (Exhibition Curator with Emily Shaw)  

This year’s exhibitions focus on the different representations of Shakespeare.  At York StManga Hamlet John, there will be a Shakespeare and Manga exhibition running from Wednesday the 24th of April to Sunday the 28th of April. This will be in the Creative Centre Atrium. There will be a short informal opening of the exhibition at 6:30 pm on the 24th, with a chance to meet and talk with the artists. There will also be a talk on Manga: Shakespeare Illustrated featuring five distinguished artists and academics: Inko Ai Takita, Ryuta Minami, Yukari Yoshihara, Chie Kutsuwada, and Ronan Paterson. This event will take place on Thursday the 25th at 7:30 p.m. in Creative Centres Auditorium. Book here for the talk. There is also a chance to take part in a public workshop with the featured artists on Friday the 26th of April, from 2:30 pm to 6:00 pm at St Olave’s Church Hall, York. Book here for workshop . The illustrated talk is £15 a ticket, or £5 for concessions. The workshop is £15 a ticket (contact Saffron about concessions/comps for this off campus event). 

At the York Explore library, there will be an Images of Othello exhibition running from the 13th of April to the 23rd of May.  Both of these exhibitions feature representations of Shakespeare from all over the world, and they’re free!   

Grace Ebberley (Volunteer Coordinator) has written about her work placement experience for the YSJ Life Blog. “My role in this year’s festival is volunteer liaison and recruitment – or, to put it simply, encouraging other YSJ students to get involved with the festival and make sure everything runs smoothly for them.   student volunteers

The festival so far has been a joy to volunteer for, and I’m super excited to get stuck in with all the upcoming events. Hopefully, by the end of this blog post, you’ll consider coming along to some of these events.” Read more from Grace here:   

Other Events and Opportunities   

Ukrainian actors arrive in YorkContinuing our support of Ukrainian artists, YISF have collaborated with the National Theatre of Ivano-Frankivsk from Ukraine and performers from the Ukrainian community in York to bring you an important and prompt new production Working Title: A Collaboration. Practitioners and academics from the YISF will be working with our students across Humanities and Arts. Please consider buying a Pass It on Ticket for a refugee or asylum seeker in York. You can book this for any paid event and it can be reallocated to a show of the recipient’s choice. 

Support us here See you there!