The art of storytelling demonstrated at the Old REP sends Culture Critic Sophie Braybrook on an emotional roller-coaster.Written by Sophie Braybrook on 14th February 2016
Book To The Future: Sir Tony Robinson’s ‘Weird World of Wonders’ @ Elgar Concert Hall
‘It had everything that you would want from such a charismatic celebrity
Everyone has heard of Sir Tony Robinson for one reason or another; either from his presenter role on TV series Time Team for Channel 4 or from his hilarious performance as Baldrick in the hit comedy series Blackadder. But what people tend to forget is that he is actually a very serious historian, as well as an incredibly successful children’s writer. When asked about why he chooses to write for children, despite being an incredibly intellectual person, he replied with ‘Children are the future’ – simple, but true. He is definitely passionate about educating children and this is what his talk Weird World of Wonders, as part of the Book To The Future Festival, was all about.
It’s fair to say that the level of enthusiasm he maintained throughout his hour-long talk was impressive. It had everything that you would want from such a charismatic celebrity with strong elements of fun, interactive demonstrations, and humour for the adults. It is very difficult to cater to all age levels within one talk but Robinson did a fantastic job. He was captivating, engaging and hands-on: using volunteer primary school children from the audience to act as Egyptian pyramids, Greek Olympians and Roman citizens. He managed to cover all of these major empires from history in such a short space of time whilst maintaining the children’s attention – a task to impress any teacher!
When speaking to him after the event, I asked him if he had any tips or advice for young, aspiring children’s writers. His reply was a word that the majority of students loath: ‘Redraft’. Although we all hate to hear it, it seems like it really does work: ‘You must be a sculptor, rather than a road digger. Shape your writing instead of just banging something out.’
The event was a heart-warming experience, partly due to the large role that the primary school children played but mostly thanks to Sir Tony Robinson’s passion and enthusiasm. Watching the audience leave the Elgar Concert Hall all ages had smiles on their faces, showing that topics do not have to be challenging for an audience to enjoy a talk.
By Katherine Keegan