London

Coronavirus: Digital stage for kids' poems after West End cancellation

I know I wish I will launch event Image copyright Cesare De Gigilio
Image caption I know I wish I will was launched on the Criterion Theatre stage a year ago

The poems of hundreds of young people will still be celebrated after a 25-hour event in the West End had to be cancelled because of the coronavirus.

I know I wish I will would have seen more than 800 performances at the Criterion Theatre in central London.

It was called off when Boris Johnson announced such venues should be avoided but organisers Eastside said they still wanted give performers "their moment".

The poems will now be broadcast on a "digital stage" from 11:00 GMT.

The decision to call off the event was taken before prime minister Boris Johnson announced on Friday that theatres - as well as other venues such as pubs, restaurants, cinemas and gyms - would be told to close until further notice.

'Wave of creativity'

The project, which was endorsed by Stephen Fry and Unesco UK, launched on the Criterion's stage a year ago.

It called for children and young people aged from five to 25 to submit spoken word performances and go on the stage during a 25-hour marathon for World Poetry Day 2020.

"The idea was to spark a wave of creativity across the country," Eastside's chief executive Matt Lane explained.

The charity received thousands of entries from both the UK and abroad and picked those that were considered to be the "most representative", but the event was called off at the start of the week.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Criterion Theatre, in Piccadilly Circus, is currently home to The Comedy About A Bank Robber

Young people have been asked to record their performances and post them on social media from 11:00 using the hashtags #knowwishwill #worldpoetryday and tagging @EastsideLondon.

Mr Lane said the alteration would allow those involved to still have "their moment" to perform to a worldwide audience.

He hoped the event would "spark a whole new wave of poems" to give young people an outlet to write about the current situation with the virus.

"We're trying to create something positive in times of this pandemic," he said.

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