We’ve kicked off the new year by visiting both old and new primary schools, I should say ‘old and new primary schools to us’. Which is best? Unfair question! We’ve had cracking weeks in both schools and hope the old school will become even older and the new school will soon become an old school too. They were, however, two very different weeks during which we worked with 720 children between the ages of 6 and 11.

Let’s start by telling you about the ‘old’ school.  Lyon Park Primary in Wembley is now an old friend of ours. We’ve been going there on an annual basis for the last five years running workshops and Project Weeks on Macbeth, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night (so far!). Like so many schools in London, Lyon Park is a four form entry school, so in the early days we used to run a week of Interactive Workshops for five year groups and work with the remaining year group (120 children) during the second week to put on the final production. Always at the mercy of the Funding Gods however, in recent years we have returned to run just the week of workshops for Years 2-6. And of course now we are seeing the fruits of our labour in that Years 1&2 from the early years are now Years 5&6 and remember us clearly from year to year.  This year we tackled the somewhat tricky ‘Twelfth Night’ – I say somewhat tricky because of the gender confusion (girl dressing up as a boy and instantly looking exactly like her boy twin – well yes, you do have to use your imagination a bit) but it does have loads of fun characters for the children to play, not to mention a party and the opportunity to write a really sloppy love letter. We also don’t shy away from the bullying aspect of the play – lots of food for thought for post-workshop class discussion. There were some terrific performances from some genuinely naturally talented actors and, happily, lots of laughter too, which means there was definitely some learning going on there too.  Thanks once again Lyon Park for inviting us to be part of your school year – we love working with you and look forward to coming back again next year!

‘Just wanted to say a huge thanks again to you and Richard for another fantastic week of workshops! Not only did it really involve the pupils in the play, but it also inspired them to create some wonderful pieces of writing as a result. I look forward to seeing you again next year.”

Kind regards,  Katie Hall (English Subject Leader) Lyon Park Primary, Wembley

Now on to the new school – Great Leighs Primary, Essex – what a wonderful week we had there. We were very mindful of the fact that we were as new to the school as they were to us and, in that sense, no one really knew what to expect. We were very quickly put at our ease, made to feel very welcome and reassured that our approach to working with the children was completely in step with theirs. Phew! The children too soon learnt that we have high expectations as a company and, therefore, having only one evening to learn some original Shakespeare text (or even lines in modern English) is no barrier to a great performance. And boy, did they deliver! ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in Essex certainly blew away the January blues and blew a few pairs of socks off too!  Congratulations to all 120 children in KS2 and all the staff at Great Leighs – take another bow! And, without wishing to blow our own trumpets too much, below is some of the feedback we received this morning – good to know we are all reading from the same scene!

What did you enjoy most about FINDING THE WILL?

All children were given a speaking part, drama techniques and that constant message of Teamwork, focus, listening and commitment

What do you think the children took away from FINDING THE WILL?

Confidence that they can get on stage and confidently say their parts.

Putting in the hard work to learn their lines in such a short space of time.

What was the most valuable element of FINDING THE WILL for you as a teacher?

Constant messages of high expectations.

What is your opinion of the FINDING THE WILL practitioner(s) who delivered your workshop/residency?

They were both fantastic (Richard and Jules) and would highly recommend them. They had a firm but fair approach with the children and the results of the final show speak for themselves.

Any other comments

I was amazed at the standard of the show put on. Some children were only given a day and a half to learn their lines. The end product was fantastic and the whole school community (Children, staff and parents) were so pleased with the final outcome. There was an overwhelming positive response from the parents who attended the show and a number of them said they would have paid to watch the performance.

James Garlick (Deputy Headteacher) Great Leighs Primary School

Many thanks to everyone at Great Leighs Primary, we did it (even with the power cut!)! We genuinely hope we can return and work with you all again.

So, that’s January done for FINDING THE WILL. We’re off to another old favourite in a couple of weeks, St Bart’s in Coventry, for a week of ‘Romeo & Juliet’.  But by then the snowdrops will be appearing, the crocuses will just be peeping out and the nights will be getting longer as Spring awakens. We’ll have cracked winter and we can all breathe a sigh of relief!

Speak again soon!

 

 

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