“I have confidence in Shakespeare,
I have confidence in rain.
I have confidence that spring will come again!
Besides what you see I have confidence in me.”
OK it’s not exactly what Richard Rodgers wrote for ‘The Sound Of Music‘ but it sums up perfectly the last two weeks in the world of FINDING THE WILL.
“I have confidence
They’ll put me to the test!
But I’ll make them see
I have confidence in me.”
Confidence-building is one of the core strengths of FINDING THE WILL and once again the value of this has been demonstrated over the last fortnight – and not just with the children taking part, but with the practitioners too! We’ve been put to the test as well in finding new ways of inspiring confidence in some of our nine and ten year old actors. At All Saints Primary, Whiteparish, Wiltshire I was joined by fellow practitioner Angela Sims. Ange is hugely experienced as a LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art) examiner however, she would be the first to admit that, facing a group of nine year olds to nail a scene from ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in two hours flat is a very different kettle of fish! Of course she was brilliant at it but it just goes to show that we are all vulnerable at times, no matter how old we are, so our work in instilling the ‘I can do this’ feeling in children at an early age is even more important. And the All Saints Primary actors could certainly do it and did! There were some really brave performances – it takes courage to get up there and deliver your lines clearly when you’ve just had a small melt down at the side of the stage – there were some funny performances (I’ve never before considered Duke Theseus to be a comedy role but now I can’t think of him any other way – brilliant!) and there were some truly lovely performances – hearing a ten year old speaking original Shakespeare text is really quite thrilling. All Saints Primary is one of our biennial schools so our week with them becomes even more of an event. They made posters, shoebox theatres and models of characters. Thanks to all the staff for welcoming us so warmly once again but, as ever, special thanks to Mrs Heathcote, without whom this definitely could not happen.
From Wiltshire we travelled north to Yorkshire, to one of our old favourites – Montagu Academy in Mexborough. Richard and I have been going to this school annually for the last seven years. This year we were back with ‘Hamlet’ and, in the true spirit of live theatre, there was drama on and off stage! Once again, confidence played a huge part in making this week particularly special. At the beginning of the week there were some tiny voices and some real reticence to have a go but by the end of the week things had changed. We had children volunteering to take over to cover for unexpected absences, others digging deep to pull it out the bag despite nerves and outside distractions and a real ‘the show must go on’ spirit that can only come from the ‘we can do this’ feeling. Just for a second, imagine you are ten years old and playing Hamlet in two scenes (out of eight), and then you are asked to take over as Polonius in another scene with ninety minutes before the first performance, and then with fifteen minutes to go you are also asked to play Laertes in a fourth scene (out of eight). How brave must you be! He was and we, and all the ‘Hamlet’ cast of 2018, will be forever grateful. As indeed are we grateful to Miss Moran, Mrs Ogden, Miss Whiting and all the staff at Montagu Academy for inviting us back and making us feel part of the family for another year. When budgets are so tight and timetable pressures so great, it is refreshing, not to say humbling, when a school values our work with its children so much that they somehow find a way to fund a Project Week. We take nothing for granted and so will continue to worship the Funding Gods in the hope that we can return next year to do ‘Romeo & Juliet’.
In other news, prior to this last fortnight, Richard and I had our self-confidence tested once again when we did a one off performance of our new show ‘Naming The View‘ at The Pound Arts Centre, Corsham. Happy to say it was a success and the battle to get it seen more widely continues. There may be further news on that in the next blog……..But for now, with Julie Andrews ringing in my ears (oh Happy 83rd Birthday by the way Julie), I will continue to Climb Every Mountain in that department, Have Confidence In Me and say So Long, Farewell (see what I did there?) till next time!