May witches dream of WHAT you may ask? Of magic, of courage, of Shakespeare! During May, FINDING THE WILL has visited three schools, delivered eight Interactive Workshops and one Project Week on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, The Tempest and Romeo & Juliet.

Just shy of 390 children have worked with us during May to discover more about and perform in each of these plays through Interactive Workshops and a Project Week. It’s been a Dream month for us in all respects!

Westende Junior School, Wokingham

In mid May Ffion and I set off to Wokingham for two days of four different workshops! It is very unusual for us to deliver a different workshop for every year group in one visit, but we rose to the challenge! We switched from Italy to Scotland over the course of Monday lunchtime, and Greece back to Italy over Tuesday lunchtime!

We set sail on Monday morning on board The Good Ship Bullseye, heading for Naples with Year 5. Thanks, as ever, to a strange and magical Tempest, we were diverted to Prospero’s Island where a moral dilemma awaited. Get revenge or forgive………I’m happy to report that The Good Ship Bullseye made it back to Naples eventually with everyone (including the Royal Dentist) on board.

Continuing our weird and wonderful journey, in the afternoon, Year 3 joined us in the spooky wood just outside Athens. Magic and mayhem abounded on this Midsummer Night courtesy of one mischievous fairy in particular. Puck was a joy to watch and his repetition of the final words of the play ‘If we shadows have offended…..’ made it all the more special.

On Tuesday morning we found ourselves on a bleak heath in Scotland. Many predictions and feasts soon produced some canny Year 6 detectives. They quickly sussed out that the King’s Bodyguards had been framed. Or maybe this was crystal clear because all 60 of them put themselves in Macbeth’s and Lady Macbeth’s shoes to design a plan that would fool anyone! Ha! Ha!

Finally, we headed back to Italy with Year 4, to the chaos on the streets of Verona where Romeo & Juliet live. Who knew that a sedate party at the Capulet house, complete with olives on biscuits, would result in such tragedy. Well, maybe you did, but this is yet another tale for our time – silly feuds never end well.

Huge thanks to Miss Ogilvie for organising this visit. We hope the workshops were a springboard to some lovely classwork in the run up to half term.

Crowthorne C of E Primary

This primary school is new to FINDING THE WILL and what a friendly school it is! One of the most unusually shaped school halls I think I’ve ever been in provided the setting for two Macbeth workshops with Years 5 & 6. At the beginning of the day I overheard a corridor conversation “Oh we’ve got a Shakespeare workshop. I wish we didn’t.” “Who’s Shakespeare?” So I sensed that the day might be a bit of a hard sell. I could not have been more wrong. Very quickly, the children were hooked into the story, taking on the persona of the witches and hands shooting up to play the named characters. The menu for the King’s Banquet in both workshops was not for the fainthearted – and not for vegetarians either – with a centre piece of octopus and chicken nuggets on the side in one, and the more traditional pig with an apple its mouth in the other. There were also two notably feisty Lady Macbeths – their performances removed any doubt that Macbeth was manipulated.

Grateful thanks to Mrs Parker for contacting me and making this happen. I really hope we can come back in the future and explore some other Shakespeare plays with you.

Montpelier Primary School, Ealing

This was our third visit to Montpelier Primary School, a warm and caring school in leafy Ealing. Had it not been for the pandemic this could have been our 5th visit but, nonetheless, Fay and I were welcomed with open arms and we can’t wait to go back next year (funding gods permitting!).

As always, the children knew nothing about the story of A Midsummer Night’s Dream when we began on Monday morning. It didn’t take long to grab their attention with all 90 of them saluting the most important man in Athens with a raucous “Happy Be Theseus! Duke of Athens!”. I believe the impending nuptials between him and Hippolyta were going to be a classy affair with a bit of a 60s vibe going on when it came to the wedding garments.

All 90 children in the year group had the opportunity to take part in the production. Fay and I were blown away by the courage some of these 8 & 9 year olds showed. I’ve talked before about children who suffer from severe shyness, children who have English as an additional language, children who have never spoken out loud to a room full of people. I know quite a few adults who, in similar circumstances, would find this equally challenging. But with a lot of encouragement from us, and a bucket load of bravery from them, our Year 4 actors did it! Inevitably there were some cast changes on the performance day – illness always strikes just when you don’t want it – but the actors who stepped into new roles at the drop of a hat were fabulous, not just doing a good job but making absolutely no fuss. Real teamwork. And to those who sadly couldn’t be there on the day, we thank you for all your hard work during the week and we’re sorry you didn’t get your moment in the spotlight in front of an audience. We noticed you during the week though, so be proud!

Many thanks to Miss Salam for coordinating the whole week and all the rest of the Year 4 staff without whom the week could not have worked half so well! We are massively proud of what your children achieved and we know you are too. So Year 4, take another bow!

I just wanted to send a quick message to express our gratitude for your amazing work with our year 4 children this week. It was so special to see them perform so brilliantly for their peers and parents- such a treat! 

Miss Salam, Year 4 Teacher

Summer Term

And now we are heading off for two weeks of Macbeth in June in Grantham and Peterborough. I have a feeling some 4 year old witches may be stealing the headlines when I report back to you all at the end of the month! Meanwhile, if Illyria and Peter Pan is anywhere near you over the summer, do pop along – a familiar face to some of you will be ‘hooking’ you in! See you soon!

Nicholas James Taylor (aka Nick) as Captain Hook (photo courtesy of Illyria)


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