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For the third year running the University of Aberdeen is set to host the exciting student and youth-led WayWORD Festival.
Featuring workshops, author events, panel discussions and performance nights, this intergenerational festival will be FREE with BSL interpretation, and captions for online events. Headliners include Monica Ali, Raymond Antrobus, Christopher Brookmyre, Jenny Colgan, C.J. Cooke, Bee Asha Singh, Alan Spence, Booker Prize-winner Douglas Stuart, Esther Woolfson and more.
Launched in 2020 to celebrate the University of Aberdeen’s 525th anniversary, WayWORD returns from September 20 - 25 with a vibrant offering of literary cross-arts events on campus as well as in Aberdeen Central Library and The Blue Lamp. The festival retains some online and live-streamed events for those who are unable to join in person.
This year’s WayWORD also boasts a vibrant community programme, including comic workshops in the city and shire, and two mini-festivals co-organised by 14-15 year-olds, with mentoring from staff and University/College students.
Highlighting ‘unconventional forms of expression’ WayWORD brings under-explored arts and artists to the fore. This year’s line-up includes public workshops in Song-writing with Chamber Music Scotland’s Gareth Williams, Street Art, Gaelic Song, Creative Writing about mental health and landscape, as well as panel discussions on Gaming, Fan Fiction, Queer Horror and Performing Identities on social media, featuring TikTok’s Celia and Instagram sensation Aiberdeen Mannie. With other performers including international visual artists Sherko Abbas and Afsoon, poets Padraig Regan and Naush Sabah, horror writers Ever Dundas, Bibi June and Jonathan Sims, theatre director Debbie Hannan and rap poet Bee Asha Singh, besides weel-kent local voices Sheena Blackhall, Mae Diansangu, Shane Strachan and Jo Gilbert and pop-up performances by South Asian dancer Shashwati Pattwakar Vinod and the Polish-Scottish Choir, there is plenty to explore. The full programme will go live online on 19th July and you can book your free tickets via the festival website and also register to receive notifications.
With more than 30 events covering topics such as nature, video art, poetry, music, flash fiction, photography, mental health, contemporary drama, TikTok and Insta identities, narrative games and dance, there is something for everyone at WayWORD’s 2022 festival. There will be book launches of new work by David Wheatley and Timothy C Baker, as well as Creative Writing alumna Rachelle Atalla, whose debut novel, The Pharmacist is published this year. WayWORD Community Festival includes events at Riverbank Primary School, Tillydrone, by Dreams Can Come Moo children’s author Matt Kinghorn, and Hazlehead Academy ‘Art for Life’ mini-fest (programmed by S3/4 pupils at the school), featuring Young Adult author Maya MacGregor.
‘The last two festivals have been really successful, but this year has the extra challenge of offering a full face-to-face festival experience for the first time, as well as keeping some online content for those who can’t join us in-person. This year’s youth committee have been wonderful in coming up with great event ideas and learning loads of new skills to be able to be involved in every aspect of WayWORD. They really give the festival its unique flavour each year and keep it fresh and exciting, as well as putting in a huge amount of work and creativity to deliver such a wide variety of events.’
Dr Helen Lynch (Director UoA WORD Centre for Creative Writing and Festival Creative Director)
WayWORD is curated each year by students from across the University, as well as other young people from Aberdeen City and Shire, working with staff of the WORD Centre for Creative Writing and SLLMVC and former students involved in 2020 and 2021. The idea is to provide mentoring and hands-on experience for students in all aspects of arts admin, events organisation and delivery - from author liaison, programme design, and budgeting to marketing, AV and tech support, event chairing and performing. Despite the commonly held idea that studying arts subjects doesn’t lead to a career, these young people receive valuable training and experience and several previous WayWORD Committee members have gone on to secure jobs in the creative industries, as gallery curators and with other festivals.