Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

Caught in a landslide

No escape from reality

(Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen)

Well here we are at the end of another academic year and what a year it’s turned out to be! As we plot a trepidatious course for the ‘new normal’, it still feels like we are all living in a kind of science fantasy/horror movie, but set sail we must, destination unknown,

Covid-19 – The New Normal Working in Schools

FINDING THE WILL has been working in Primary and Special Schools since 2007 introducing Shakespeare through Interactive Workshops and Shakespeare Project Weeks.  Over the years, our work has proved invaluable to many schools. As well as enhancing the Literacy curriculum, we also have a reputation for raising self-esteem and confidence in children plus improving teamwork, listening, concentration and creative skills.  However, this lovely work requires, for the large part, face to face interaction. Therefore our ‘new normal’ in the immediate future looks like this:

Jules and Richard peeking through framed prints saying awesome
Our fabulous gift from Heritage Park Primary, Peterborough after working there annually for ten years.
Interactive Workshops

Depending on the size of your school and, therefore, the size of your bubbles, we can offer Interactive Workshops with one or two practitioners.  The workshops can take place in your classroom (preferably with desks moved to the edge of the room).  Our practitioners will stand at the front of the class (socially distanced) and the workshop will be run with the children sitting in front of us, facing forward. In advance of the workshop, we will send you a list of the characters so that you can write the names on sticky labels which can be left on a table away from us, to be collected by the children/characters when appropriate.  We will also send you a list of basic props such as crowns and swords.  Again these can be left on a table away from us for the children/characters to collect when directed.  We can provide a portable CD player if required.  We will of course have hand sanitiser and anti-bacterial wipes so that, if we touch your equipment, we can wipe it immediately afterwards.  We also have face coverings, should they be required.  We will discuss with you all arrangements prior to our visit to ensure we are complying with all the Covid-Safe measures in your school regarding timing, breaks, lunchtime arrangements etc. 

Shakespeare Project Weeks

Sadly, as things stand, the Shakespeare Project Weeks will have to be put on hold, because of the bubbles and the fact that assemblies are not currently permitted (so there can be no audience at the end of the week apart from anything else!), the Project Weeks require more than one Year Group or class (or bubble). That said, if any school can come up with an innovative and safe way of making the week work (I’m thinking with the aid of digital technology) we are very happy to talk!

GCSE/A Level/University Students

For English and/or Drama students we offer live-streamed performances of ‘Bard Heads’ – a collection of monologues (each lasting 50 minutes) which explores what may have happened to various Shakespeare characters after the end of the play.  If you are studying Macbeth, Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night or The Tempest, this offers a look back at the play through an imaginative, in-depth character study.  It will inspire students of both English and Drama to think outside the box about the play, the themes and the motivations of the characters.  The live stream can be accomplished using a platform of your choice (Zoom, CrowdCast, Google Classroom Webcast etc).  The performance can be followed by a Q&A.

Jules Hobbs in her kitchen preparing for her role in The Third Witch From The Left

Live Stream Performances

Recently FINDING THE WILL teamed up with The Old Library Theatre at intoBodmin to live stream two of our ‘Bard Heads’ monologues. If you’re a fan of the excellent Alan Bennett’s ‘Talking Heads’, you’ll be familiar with the format. There are six monologues in total exploring what might have happened to certain characters at the end of Hamlet, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, The Tempest and Romeo & Juliet. Richard and I have written and performed these live nationwide over the last ten years. However performing them live online to a virtual audience was something completely different! Talk about fantasy! Richard pioneered the enterprise in the theatre in Bodmin itself with CALL ME OZ and then I followed suit the following week from the comfort of my own kitchen with THE THIRD WITCH FROM THE LEFT. The strangest thing was not being able to see or hear the audience reaction. From our point of view we had a computer screen on which we could see ourselves, a sound system, a microphone and huge faith that we weren’t merely talking to ourselves! The ‘applause’ (which apparently is what all actors crave but which personally I often find quite embarrassing) was in the form of a chat box. Lovely comments from people – watching not just in the UK as it turned out – have inspired us to pursue this form of performing further until we can get back to real life (not just fantasy!). So watch this space for more digital news – I never thought I’d be writing those words in a blog!

Real life has never been so challenging, nothing seems quite normal. I mean who would have thought that the Capulet’s masked ball in Romeo & Juliet would be less of a theatrical event and more of just a normal get together with friends (socially distanced of course)! Yet, as we all navigate our way round the constant nagging fear that Coronavirus could bite any one of us at any time, digital performances, face-coverings and socially distanced workshops seem a small price to pay for a healthy life. Fantasy or no fantasy, this is the real life – and we’ve only got the one.



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