Bursting with potential and passion, the University of Sheffield showcased its breath of creativity and myriad styles of artists throughout the three-day long Platform Festival. Unbeknown to many locals and even fellow students, Platform Festival is an annual performing arts festival organised by the Platform society in collaboration with other societies such as Sheffield University Theatre Company (SUTCo), Sheffield University Performing Arts Society (SUPAS), Music Player’s Society, and many more. As its title suggests, the festival serves as a platform made by the student, for the student.
From my weekend-long experience at the festival, the unfeigned vocation and the celebratory attitude of all the student performers stood out the most for me. The performers included students ranging from casual hobbyists and enthusiasts to professionals. Jesse Romain, president of the Platform Society, believes that celebration of art requires no commercial value but merely the love of performance.
Platform Festival has been successfully run by students for five consecutive years. It remains completely profitless, raising money annually for Cavendish Cancer Care, a local cancer charity. So for the organisers to organise and the performers to perform, the incentive comes down purely to their passion for art.
This genuine passion was noticeably translated into various experimental performances throughout the festival. Gregtastrophe: A Tale of Two Teddies directed by Megan Roberts, for instance, was a postmodernist play about two ghosts journeying through their absurdist storylines set during the French Revolution period. The play succeeded in blurring the lines between the actors, stage directors and the audiences, all sharing an interesting comedic experience.
During a set by SUPAS, Bea Derrick and Matt Jacobson along with fellow performers overwhelmed the stage with a medley of musical performances, showcasing an impressive range of emotions all within a single sitting. Meanwhile Music Player’s Society, with their five different bands, captivated several audiences throughout the festival in various locations. Beyond these performances there was also a variety of workshops for poetry and writing and even calligraphy.
The highlight of the festival came with the Pablo Awards, where a symphony of jazz players from the Music Player’s Society delighted the audience. The Pablo Awards is a provision for the performers and spotlights exceptional talents. Professional artists were invited to judge and select winners for the two main awards along with other minor ones. The two main awards, the Take Two Award and the Emerging Artist Award, are sponsored by the local patrons: DINA and Theatre Delicatessen. Both these dedicated patrons are Sheffield’s own independent venues for performative arts, sharing a similar ethos with the Platform Festival. Through their awards, they aim to extend the platform for the artists, by allowing the winners to organise their own events in their venues.
Rachel Kelsall and Mickey Dale, a jazz duo, took home DINA’s Take Two Award. The duo now gets to perform their own show at the Cellar in DINA. Theatre Deli’s Emerging Artist award was grabbed by folk band Out of the Vale. They will soon be headlining an event at the Theatre Deli along with the Platform society who plan on organising a songwriting and poetry workshop to explore a mindfulness theme.
All in all, visiting Platform Festival was an enjoyable experience. Currently, the festival lacks rightful recognition, and largely revolves around respective society members for their participation and support. Nevertheless, Platform festival is an understated Sheffield tradition,acting as a platform for students to express their passion. I cannot recommend it enough, especially for arts enthusiasts.
For those who are interest in participating or simply following this festival please check out their facebook/instagram/twitter page (Platform Performance) or do check out their website http://dramafestival.wixsite.com/platformperformance!
All photos by Harry Fender