Year 4 Romeo listens to ‘Cry Me A River’ on his iPod. He might be crying for Rosaline (at this point in the play) but the audience at St Bartholomew’s Academy, Coventry on Friday afternoon was left crying a river of pride!
Last week FINDING THE WILL returned to St Bartholomew’s Academy in Coventry for the fifth year running. Even we wondered if it would be possible to top ‘The Tempest’ triumph of 2017 but we needn’t have worried. ‘Romeo & Juliet’ was a triumphant tragedy! We love going to St Bart’s – the excitement of the staff (never mind the children) is infectious and it’s music to our ears to hear words like ‘”We love Shakespeare Week!” and “This is my favourite week of the year!”. So no pressure then, with our help, 193 KS2 children had to pull it out the bag once again. And boy, did they do that! Whether it was the tragic end of Romeo & Juliet beautifully portrayed by ten year olds, the courage of tiny voices to say just a few words out loud, the bravery of two nine year olds to enact a romantic scene on a balcony or the sheer pride of watching every single child in Years 3-6 give their very best, we were all crying a river by the end of the day! And although this clearly wasn’t a ‘cry with laughter’ sort of play, there were some giggles along the way – who knew that Lady Berlusconi was a guest at the Capulet masked ball or that Lord Verdi would have loved to have joined Lady Verdi in a dance but for his bad back……..! Fantastic storytelling and, judging by the fact there were a few tears from some of the children at the end too, a wonderfully fulfilling week all round.
But it’s not just one fulfilling week, as brilliant as that is, it’s the ‘legacy’ (oh how I loathe that word but I can’t think of a better one). Imagine our surprise when we arrived last Monday, a whole year since we were last in the school, to walk down a corridor and be greeted by this:
The Tempest Corridor St Bartholomew’s Academy, Coventry
As we left the walls were being stripped and The Tempest sea was set to be replaced by the streets of Verona. Every child had decorated a mask so I’m sure they will form part of the display and then there will be all the written work that is being generated by this week’s ‘Focus on Shakespeare’. You’ve got to hand it to St Bartholomew’s, Coventry – they really know how to get the most out of Shakespeare and their pupils, and it’s a real privilege to be part of that.
We wish all the very best to everyone in Year 6 – we’ve watched you grow from Year 3 (Hamlet), through Year 4 (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), to Year 5 (The Tempest) and now Year 6 (Romeo & Juliet). Remember to hang on to that self-belief and self-discipline you’ve learnt with us over the years and don’t let anyone tell you that Shakespeare is boring because you know different! Finally a huge thanks to Mrs Rayson and all the staff for inviting us back and making us feel so welcome as always – may the Funding Gods shine upon you all!
Finally to complete our week, last night Richard and I performed two monodramas from our ‘Bard Heads’ collection in Berkhamsted. We began in the afternoon with a Writing Workshop for a dozen young people (Year 10) and followed this with performances of ‘Call Me Oz’ and ‘The Queen’s Speech’, plus a Q&A session. What a very pleasant way to spend an otherwise dreary Sunday. Thanks very much for inviting us Berko Fringe – we hope very much to come back and work with you again – maybe with our new show ‘Naming The View’. More exciting news on that in the weeks to come.
Next up, back to The Tempest and The Dream with a couple of small village schools here in Wiltshire. Until then as someone once said………Parting is such sweet sorrow………