4 schools, 3 plays, 2 project weeks, 1 month! FINDING THE WILL is back!

Macbeth's severed head (prop) on the end of a sword. Anson Primary School
Macbeth having a bad hair day – Anson Primary School.

It’s been a bit of a month for FINDING THE WILL.. We’ve visited 4 schools, 2 of which were new to us and our work. We’ve delivered 10 workshops (4 x A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 3 x Macbeth and 3 x The Tempest) and run 2 Project Weeks on Macbeth and The Tempest all in person!

interactive workshops

First off was a day at St Mary’s First School, Uttoxeter. Originally we were going to this friendly school in June 2020 but something got in the way. Undeterred, we finally made it on 7 June 2021 and what a lovely day it was. Years 3&4 got stuck into A Midsummer Night’s Dream wrestling with the dilemmas thrown up in the play. Faced with the problem of whether to follow her heart or her head, Hermia was advised (by a very wise 8 year old) to follow her heart because “you should be in control of your own life.” A wise head on young shoulders.

Moving on to Westende Junior, Wokingham, we spent two days with years 3-6 leading Interactive Workshops on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest and Macbeth. Again there was some cracking advice on offer for Hermia from Year 4. “Follow your heart and be honest with yourself.” I think Shakespeare himself said something similar in Hamlet “To thine own self be true.” but that’s by the bye. This school was new to our work and we had 2 fantastic days there, watching some incredible performances which blew away the staff as much as us!

“The most valuable element for us as teachers was watching the less confident children act and come out of themselves a little more, especially seeing some of our ASD children, who are usually hard to engage.”

project weeks

MACBETH

From 2 new schools to 2 old friends beginning with Anson Primary, Cricklewood. Every year, for the past 9 years (barring last year of course) we have spent a wonderful week in this creative school with Years 3&4. This year it was the tragedy of Macbeth that held their attention and produced some stunning performances. Bearing in mind that the children in Year 3 had not been on stage since they were 5 or 6 years old, this was an incredible achievement. Performed without an audience – other than the cast members themselves (OK that was 100 actors) – the performance was filmed in true Anson style, with effects, amazing lighting and jaw-dropping performances from 7-9 year olds. Richard and I are so proud to be associated with this phenomenal school.

Newsletter from Anson Primary describing how Macbeth brought back joy to the stage, staff and pupils in Years 3&4.
Anson Primary Newsletter

THE TEMPEST

And finally, last week we returned to St Botolph’s Primary in Peterborough for a week of The Tempest with Years 5&6. What a week this turned out to be too! This was our third visit to this warm and friendly school. Of the 120 actors we worked with, some were at total ease being on stage, but many more were pushed far out of their comfort zones. What courage then, to stand up and find that big voice which has been muffled for the last 16 months at least thanks to you know what. Once again, Richard and I were staggered at the way children step in to help each other out, to be supportive, to give encouragement, to take over a role as an understudy and then magnanimously give it up when the original cast member returns. There is some real raw talent in this school too – we asked FERDINAND in Year 5 to remember us when he’s famous. his reply? “I’ll give you a wave from the red carpet!” – how wonderful that would be!

Prop table for The Tempest at St Botolph's, Peterborough.Cardboard box camera, Book Of Spells, 2 crowns, 1 walking stick, Trinculo hat and a blue material representing a wave!
Prop Table for The Tempest at St Botolph’s, Peterborough

finding a voice

Never has our work – helping children to find their voices – been more important. In all of the schools we’ve worked in during June, the day or week has begun with tiny voices, little confidence and a lack of self-belief. The pandemic and all the associated problems with isolation must surely have played a part in this. So it has been a joy and a privilege helping 520 children over the last 4 weeks to turn up the volume, be brave and find the confidence to speak out with pride. It’s not easy, we know, but the feeling of achievement and self-worth having done it, has been palpable.

We are taking bookings now for 2021/22, so if you would like the children in your school to experience a similar feeling of fulfilment, plus learn the story of a famous Shakespeare play, please do get in touch: jules@findingthewill.com

Meanwhile I’ll talk to you all next month with news of our Edinburgh Fringe adventure which is fast approaching! Aaagghhh!!!!!

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