As schools close, exams disappear and work for millions grinds to a halt thanks to Coronavirus, here at FTWHQ we urge you all to stay positive.

Last Monday I was lucky enough to squeeze in a final school visit before the UK slid into lockdown. St James CofE Primary, Rusholme, Manchester is a new school to us and what a friendly, warm welcome I received. I led Years 5 & 6 in two Interactive Workshops on ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. In these grim times it is brilliant to hear children laughing as they discover a story together – something that will be sadly missing for the next few months (laughter and storytelling in schools that is). In every FTW workshop there is always at least one question that absolutely everybody can answer (never a wrong answer as you know dear reader) and in ‘The Dream’ it is “What have you come to the market to buy?” In normal times the response is anything from vegetables and fruit to chips and chocolate. Whilst there was some of that last Monday, there was also an awful lot of toilet roll and hand sanitiser! Out of the mouths of babes and all that!

Toilet Rolls as bought by many pupils in Athens Market - St James CofE Primary
The most popular item of shopping in Athens Market!

So huge thanks to Miss Dodds and Mrs Yamawaki for all the organisation prior to my visit and, indeed, for inviting FINDING THE WILL to come along in the first place. I do hope there will be another opportunity to visit again when we are out the other side of this current nightmare.

The FINDING THE WILL Rising Star Award 2017

Now next week we were due to be back at one of our favourite schools of all time Anson Primary Alas, the dreaded C Word has put paid to that and, as a consequence, the recipient of The FINDING THE WILL Rising Star Award 2020 will also be on hold (possibly non-existent) – I don’t know who is more disappointed, them or us. Likewise Montpelier Primary, Ealing where we were due to visit the week before the Easter holidays is another casualty. We are determined we will return to both of these wonderful schools in the future.

Macbeth Poster - Year 4, Montpelier Primary
Macbeth Poster – Year 4, Montpelier Primary

In other news, thanks to our mate Mr Coronavirus, our next performance of our show ‘Naming The View’ (which was a rip roaring success in Cornwall for Carn To Cove at the end of February) has also been cancelled. Once again a huge disappointment for us especially after such a brilliant response to our last performance:

Vanloo’s Reviews
2 March at 13:39 · 
Finding The Will Theatre Company
Naming the View written by Richard Curnow
Domestic abuse, both physical and mental, has always been one of the famous taboos. Abuse went on behind closed doors which should stay firmly shut and never be brought into conversation at a dinner party, or anywhere for that matter. Thankfully those doors are finally being forced open and the women and men who have suffered in silence are declaring their very real pain and asking for help.
Writers, artists and performers are using their platforms to highlight the vast numbers of domestic violence victims by creating work to ensure this insidious and controlling behaviour stays in the limelight.
Richard Curnow’s superb two – hander tackles the subject using stark candour mixed with humour. The play unfolds as a couple of old friends accidentally meet up after losing touch for many years and draws modern day parallels with The Taming of The Shrew. Kate and Horton have both suffered years of abuse in different ways at the hands of their spouses; as the play progresses we are spellbound as their individual stories unfold. Using clever flashbacks Horton morphs into the bullying and thoroughly nasty Pete, husband of the broken and unhappy Kate. Horton’s misery at the hands of his nit picking wife is another form of abuse, relentless not threatening, but culminating in the breaking of Horton. Having painted a dark picture, rest assured that Finding The Will is not all doom and gloom for laughter and hope runs throughout the story.
Jules Hobbs and Richard Curnow held the Grampound audience with riveting performances which were wonderful to watch, but must be physically and mentally draining for both.
Beautifully directed by Bryn Holding, Naming The View should be performed up and down the country, not only to raise awareness to those who are fortunate enough to be untouched by the subject matter, but also to offer hope to those men and women trapped in cruel situations who believe there is no escape.

Sheila Vanloo

So to all our friends, supporters, actors, teachers, parents, governors, Patrons, associate practitioners and fellow artistes, all of whom are having a rough time at the moment thanks to our Coronavirus friend, we say “hang in there!” This is not the end, merely a pause, perhaps even a timely pause for the world to re-set and realise that we are better working together, united in humanity. Dark times ahead yes, but there’s always hope.

“If it must be so, let’s not weep nor complain. We have had these things, they do not come again, but the flag still flies and the city has not fallen.”

Humbert Wolf

See you on the other side!


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