(What could possibly be the connection? Read on to find out!)
Mediterranean weather in June, so how appropriate that we’ve spent much of the month with 285 children in Mediterranean countries! We began in Italy, skipped on to Greece and then returned to Italy during 8 days of fun with ROMEO & JULIET, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM and THE TEMPEST. Along the way we encountered heat, tempers, Bob the Mermaid and the power of Michael Rosen’s ReTweets! So let’s start our journey south in Verona.
Preshute Primary School, Wiltshire
First stop on our tour of the Mediterranean was Preshute Primary, near Marlborough, Wiltshire. This is a small village school in a beautiful location. Unusually, I was working all day with the same class. Year 6 went from tragedy to comedy consolidating some classwork and launching into a new project. Having already studied ROMEO & JULIET in class, Year 6 were familiar with the character names and storyline. But when you start putting yourself in the character’s shoes, working out why they might react in a certain way, a more detailed understanding is achieved. Plus, in our version, Lord and Lady Capulet’s ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ dance is a sensation!
In the afternoon we travelled on to Greece for an introduction to A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM. Hilarity ensued of course. Well, a fairy falling in love with a half man, half donkey (who happens to be called Bottom) is always going to bring the house down, isn’t it? Amidst the laughter however, at least one person in Year 6 spotted the link between Pyramus & Thisbe (Peter Quince’s masterpiece!) and Romeo & Juliet. If that has passed you by, I’ll leave you to ponder!
thank you Mrs Ottoway for organising this visit and for your lovely comments afterwards.
“Thank you for a brilliant day and start to the term. The children, and I, thoroughly enjoyed the workshops.”Mrs Ottoway, Year 6 Teacher, Preshute Primary
Holy Trinity CofE Primary, Burton on Trent
Two days later we headed north to Holy Trinity, Burton on Trent. Still ‘Dreaming’ in the Mediterranean, Richard and I spent a day and a half at this friendly school working with KS1 & KS2. Holy Trinity is new to us and so it was lovely weaving the FINDING THE WILL magic with an unsuspecting audience! Initially, and understandably, there was a little reticence, but once we made our mantra clear, we were off!
“At FINDING THE WILL, there is never a wrong answer, just an interesting idea!”Jules and Richard, FINDING THE WILL
In the sweltering heat of the Mediterranean Athens Market place we discovered we could buy anything at all! Apples, oranges, sweets, Lambourghinis, jewellery, clothes, even toilet rolls and something to unblock a tap!! There are lots of characters to play in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, so plenty of opportunity to dazzle us. PUCK in all three workshops did just that. There’s something magical about hearing a child speak Puck’s words at the end of the play. We were also impressed by Years 1 & 2 who got completely absorbed. As usual, the question “If you were Hermia, would you follow your head or your heart?”, created some debate. However you can’t fault the logic of one particular 6 year old:
“Hermia should do what her dad says or she could be dead for the rest of her life”
Many thanks to Mrs Oliphant and all the staff for inviting us in – we hope we’ll be back with you in the future.
Montpelier Primary, Ealing, London
To finish off June, Fay and I went back to Montpelier Primary in Ealing – and I went back to Italy! This was our 4th visit to this warm and friendly school. Annually we work with Year 4, and this year our 90 actors took us to a tropical island via Milan and Naples in THE TEMPEST. Sailing back across the Mediterranean to Naples on ‘The Good Ship Bob the Mermaid’, our actors got their first taste of the wrath of Prospero. They were quickly drawn in to the story and excited to find out what parts they would be playing in their very own performance at the end of the Project Week.
Be in no doubt, standing on a stage and speaking out loud to over 150 adults, is a pretty daunting task, especially when you are only 8 or 9. At FINDING THE WILL we’re all about raising self-esteem and confidence. When we see a child struggling for whatever reason, we do our best to find out what the barrier is. Sometimes it is merely a lack of self-belief, sometimes it’s anxiety issues, sometimes it’s just that the role doesn’t seem as much fun as another. Whatever the reason, it’s not our job to make a child feel anxious, uncomfortable or unhappy. Likewise, it is our job to help them to succeed and shine. Last week, Year 4 did just that.
Whilst Fay and I worked individually on 8 different scenes, the Year 4 staff pulled out all the stops rehearsing our actors in their classrooms. They were also designing posters into the bargain!
And then, on the Performance day itself, I tweeted about the day ahead. I tagged in Michael Rosen, as he is a Patron of FINDING THE WILL. He retweeted. At lunchtime before their final performance, I told this to the children. Their eyes lit up! They gasped! They turned in another brilliant performance!
What they don’t know is that Michael Rosen Retweeted the above! Year 4 take another bow!!
A massive thank you to all the Year 4 staff, particularly Mrs Connett and Ms Gillespie (resident DJ), Also thanks go to Mr Rai for his enthusiasm and kind words, and Mrs Goldsworthy and Mrs Ross for looking after us and making us so welcome. Finally I’ll leave you with a snippet of music the invited audience was treated to on arrival, courtesy of Mr Dietsche (student teacher from Switzerland).
PS FINDING THE WILL also works internationally (just so you’re aware Mr Dietsche!)