The little Foxes (Fox Class aka Reception/Year 1) stole the show at Collingbourne Primary, Wiltshire last week.

The scene is set for the Foxes, Hedgehogs, Bees and Kingfishers at Collingbourne Primary, Wiltshire

The scene is set for the Foxes, Hedgehogs, Bees and Kingfishers at Collingbourne Primary, Wiltshire

And original Shakespeare text spoken by 4 year olds completely dispels the myth that Shakespeare plays are merely for the intelligent, the elite and the well educated. Which is not to say, of course, that our little Foxes last week were not all of those things – but they were FOUR, FIVE and SIX YEARS OLD! Some might say, (indeed I was heard to say so myself several times) “They are barely alive!” but they stirred the cauldron, chucked in eyes of newts, tongues of dogs and blindworms’ stings with the best of them. There were some early refusals to take part (quickly turned around by some skilful teachers I might add), some nervous tears and some quite little voices but that all faded into insignificance once five year old Macbeth hit the stage with the famous Shakespearean cry of “Hello you hags!” (yes we know it should be “How now, you secret black and midnight hags” but give him a break, he’s only just five). Likewise there were more courageous little Foxes playing witches in the opening scene of Macbeth – what was a real joy was seeing the delight in their eyes when they spoke – so much pride for them, their teachers, their parents and for us.

The symbol of Macbeth at Collingbourne Primary School

The symbol of Macbeth at Collingbourne Primary School

Of course it wasn’t just the Foxes that performed on Friday afternoon (though arguably they did steal the show). Let’s just consider the fact that Hedgehog Class is made up of Years 1&2 – that’s 5,6 & 7 year olds for the uninitiated – and they were tackling the persuasion/arrival of the King Scene and the Lady Macbeth sleepwalking scene. Call me old fashioned but I’d say there are some fifty, sixty and seventy year olds who might balk at the thought of that. Not so the Hedgehogs – the ‘doctor’ learnt Lady Macbeth’s confessional speech in less than 24 hours and, spurred on by other Hedgehogs joining in with Vera Lynn singing ‘When you’re up to your neck in hot water, put on the kettle and sing”, the whole scene was a veritable treat!

Richard, the set designer at work!

Richard, the set designer at work!

Moving on up the school we encountered the Bees (Years 3 & 4) – these actors took on the murder of King Duncan and the final battle scene. Tension rose as the owl hooted, the clock ticked, the King screamed and there was a knocking at the gate! Panic ensued as the servants tried to work out if the King was drunk or had eaten something that didn’t agree with him whilst Lady Macbeth fainted to distract attention. The Bees were magnificent in playing the scene right to the very end when a rather smug new King Macbeth and his Queen finally left the stage. It fell to the Kingfishers (Years 5/6) to act out the coronation of the new King and Queen, the murder of Banquo and the subsequent appearance of his ghost at the banquet – an episode of Eastenders in itself – and then hats off, big time, for ten year old Macbeth who learnt the whole ‘Tomorrow’ speech overnight. By this point in the week, self-belief was key, and Prince Malcolm (Bee Class) leading his army in a specially written GI chant appeared to have this in spades. And frankly, that is all we wanted.

All FINDING THE WILL ever wants in fact is to help children to believe in themselves, to give them courage to speak up and to try something new because that is, after all, how we grow. We were privileged to witness some real growth spurts last week and for that we thank Mr Crossman for inviting us and all the staff and parents at Collingbourne Primary who helped to make our visit possible. We’d love to return same time next year but we know it’s all down to the F word – FUNDING, but for the sake of our little Foxes we truly hope it’s possible.

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