Happy 2020 everyone! To kick start the new decade R&J (that’s Richard & Jules) did ‘Romeo & Juliet’ with Years 3-6 at Great Leighs Primary, Essex last week. Who knew that tragedy could be so much fun!

Following on from the success of ‘Twelfth Night‘ in 2019 and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in 2018, we were delighted to be invited back to this warm, friendly and caring Primary School. But could one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies (not to mention one of the greatest love stories ever told) equal the success of the two side-splitting comedies? The answer was a resounding YES!

Juliet’s wedding bouquet and funeral flowers, Great Leighs Primary School

As always, we began the Project Week with the Interactive Workshop. After having a good old jive at the Capulet ball to ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ we got down to the serious business of love, marriage, fighting and ultimate death. These are big issues to tackle for anyone let alone for 7-11 year olds. The sleeping potion that Juliet takes in order to appear ‘dead’ and avoid marrying Count Paris caused a certain amount of consternation for one of our 7 year old actors. “What if she snored?” – it’s a fair question, I mean it would have given the game away entirely and the whole play might have turned out very differently………

Juliet sleeping

Rehearsals for the final performance on Friday began in earnest on Tuesday and Wednesday. There were some terrific performances even in those early stages, some of which got better and better and some which, sadly, the audience never got to see. Sickness came to call for Benvolio in Year 4 and one of the Montague servants in Year 5. Alas, no matter how good an actor you are (and trust me, they were), no matter how disappointed you are that you can’t perform (again, I know they were), the 48 hour ban has to abide. Tough times. And it didn’t stop there…..one of our amazing Year 6 Romeos and Year 5 Friar Laurences also fell foul of sickness between performances on Friday lunchtime! Undeterred, a quick rehearsal of the understudies and, with half an hour to go, the show was saved! We send huge thanks to those who stepped in to take over and commiserations to those who fell ill. Never nice, but after all your hard work, it seems a tad unfair. We really hope you are all fighting fit again. So thank you Great Leighs, in particular Ms Le Masurier and Mrs Waters for organising the whole event with me and inviting us back. Fingers crossed the Funding Gods smile on us so we can repeat the whole experience next year.

Year 6, Warwick Road Primary
Year 5, Warwick Road Primary

Continuing our ‘tragic’ start to the second decade of 2020, we hared up the motorway on Monday to Batley, Yorkshire and the lovely Warwick Road Primary School. We had the most fantastic day with Year 5 doing ‘Macbeth’ followed by ‘Hamlet’ with Year 6. Apart from some terrific performances, Richard and I were hugely impressed by the focus and listening skills exhibited by the children. As requested they had been told nothing about the stories in advance so they discovered them together – such a great feeling hearing the gasp from the audience as Gertrude inadvertently drinks the poisoned wine! Huge thanks to Mr Lavery for organising the whole day and thinking outside the box in order to accommodate the whole two hour experience without interrupting lunchtime!

So 2020 we’re off! Next stop is Clifford Road Primary, Ipswich for me with ‘The Tempest’ whilst Richard goes to Viewley Academy, Middlesbrough for ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. Both of these will be second visits before we head back to our old stamping ground of Coventry and the lovely St Bartholomew’s Academy.

Happy New Decade all! We’re ready for you!

PS: STOP PRESS – the first FINDING THE WILL baby has also safely arrived! More on that next time………


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