Norwich pupils take on the role of art critics

Budding young critics are getting ready to deliver their verdicts on an array of acts at this year's Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

A team of young reviewers have been picked to give their views on performances, and at the end of the festival they will take centre-stage as they host a glittering awards ceremony to honour their favourite shows.

The Evening News-sponsored Children's Choice Awards Ceremony will take place on May 21 at Norwich Playhouse.

The 30 youngsters taking part from City Academy, in Earlham Road, say they cannot wait to see some of the weird and wonderful acts on the festival's programme and they think it is brilliant people want to hear their views.

Anna Dibba, 12, is one of the young panel of critics.

She said: 'I am really excited about it because I will get to do something I have never really experienced before. It is probably something that I will remember for a long time.

'I am looking forward to being a judge because I can tell people what I think.

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'Most of the time people listen to adults, but I think it is important to hear about children's views.

'I am looking forward to seeing lots of different types of arts.'

Genevieve Richardson, 12, said: 'It is quite cool because we get to experience being a judge and it is all about offering our point of view.

'We also get to design our own awards and make the trophies as well, which will be lots of fun.'

Chloe Everett, 12, said: 'I think it is going to be fun and a great chance to see lots of different things. I think it is going to be difficult choosing winners because the shows all seem really great.'

Joe Djogou, 12, said: 'I am excited that people get to listen to my point of view and I am looking forward to seeing lots of different types of arts. This is my first time doing anything like this.'

Anastasia Nappin, 11, said that she was really happy to be taking part and she thought the festival was a brilliant way of showing people how great Norwich really is.

Eden Musie, 11, said: 'You never really see children being judges, so it will be quite different to see children's points of view. It is going to be really great.'

The 30 critics have been split into three groups and each of the groups will watch four different shows. During a series of workshops they will work together to decide on the awards they want to give and which shows should receive the accolades.

Group one will be watching more than 200 musicians take part in Andy Sheppard's Saxophone Massive, an intriguing show called L'Effet de Serge, The Voice Project Choir performing The Proportions of the Temple at Norwich Cathedral, and the Penguin Cafe at the Theatre Royal.

Group two will be seeing the comedy show Professor Bumm's Story Machine, the Bolshoi Symphony Orchestra, a show combining contemporary performance and traditional Moroccan acrobatics called Chouf Ouchouf, and Nijinsky Siam which is described as a sensitive dance dialogue between two artists.

Group three will be reviewing a Ragroof Tea Dance with a 1940s theme, an outdoor theatre production of a modern day fairytale called The Iron Man, the show 2 Dimensional Life of Her, and a Congolese super-band called Staff Benda Bilili.

Duncan Joseph, a drama teacher at City Academy, said the Children's Choice Awards Ceremony was a brilliant opportunity for the pupils and that it would be an eye-opening experience for them to see so many different types of performances.

'They will get the chance to see shows that they perhaps would not normally see, and it is a great chance for them to judge somebody else's work and to see their opinions being valued.

'Also, in terms of their own development as students of the arts, the more performances you see the better, and their experience of the festival should give them a huge amount of ideas that they can bring back into their own school art, music and drama studies.'

City Academy principal Dave Brunton said it was a real privilege for so many of the school's students to be involved in the festival, and for them to be the stars of the show at the Children's Choice Awards Ceremony.

He said part of the school's mission was to ensure all of the students experience as wide a range of performing arts as possible.

'We want our students to experience everything from opera to street dance and hopefully they will find a creative niche that will become a great passion for them for the rest of their lives,' he said.

The Children's Choice Awards Ceremony is the idea of Toronto-based Mammalian Diving Reflex which organised children to do haircuts at last year's Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

The Children's Choice Awards Ceremony is at 3.30pm on Saturday, May 21 at Norwich Playhouse.

Tickets are free, but must be booked in advance.

• NNF11 runs from May 6 to 21. You can book online at, by phone on 01603 766400 or at the Norwich Theatre Royal box office

Are you involved in an exciting new art project? Call reporter Emma Knights on 01603 772428 or email