A two week tour of Italy (Naples, Milan, Verona and Mantua) via Swindon and Cricklewood (London) has kept FINDING THE WILL very busy since last we spoke.

Romeo & Juliet, Anson Primary School

Romeo & Juliet, Anson Primary School

From tempestuous times in Swindon,Wilts at Holy Family Catholic Primary and East Wichel Primary  to romantic love going horribly wrong in Anson Primary, Cricklewood, FINDING THE WILL has had a busy couple of weeks in Italy! Let’s start with Swindon and the national Shakespeare Week. Of course, there is many a Shakespeare Week in the world of FINDING THE WILL, but the national week of celebration in primary schools is always a busy one for us. This year we ran two of our famous ‘Tempest’ Project Weeks concurrently at two schools in Swindon. Maeve and I went to Holy Family whilst Richard and Mark went to East Wichel.

The Tempest Backdrop, Holy Family Catholic School, Swindon

The Tempest Backdrop, Holy Family Catholic School, Swindon

Holy Family Catholic School was a new school to us and it was a delight to work with the children in Years 5/6 and draw out the best from them in a week as usual. And there was many a highlight during the week, not least the glorious renditions of “Shaddap You Face” and “Blue Suede Shoes” by a ten year old Trinculo! No, I know that’s not exactly in the original but hey! As we so often say at FINDING THE WILL, the Shakespeare element is the added bonus. The week is really all about raising self-esteem, boosting confidence, nudging children out of their comfort zones (particularly useful preparation in Year 6) and working as a team. A lot of courage was on display at Holy Family during ‘The Tempest’ week – children faced their demons, dug deep and were oh so proud to have done so by the end. And Maeve and I were proud of them too. Huge thanks to Mrs Price for recommending us and Mrs Bathe for taking the leap of faith and booking us.

Prospero's Spell Book, Holy Family, Swindon

Prospero’s Spell Book, Holy Family, Swindon

Across town at East Wichel Primary School, another version of The Tempest was being rehearsed and performed. Under the direction of Richard and Mark this week also proved to be a fantastic success as this wonderful email from the Head Teacher shows:

Wow – we had an amazing week in school.  There was such a buzz about the place which started Monday morning with the first workshop. The children were so eager to get to rehearsals (had to remind a few to walk in school – showed how eager they were). Both Mark and Richard were superb – they know how to get the best from the children and I saw talent not seen before on the stage. You have a wonderful team and such a well organised approach to achieve a final production in a week, with every child involved! Parents were very complimentary as they departed on Friday after the performance. So thank you – we’d love to do it all over again next year!

A highlight of the week for Richard was when one of his actors from Year 5 said to him “Thank you, you’ve given me confidence to stand up and speak out. I didn’t think I could do it, but I can”. What more could we ask for?  A massive thank you then to Mrs Henham for inviting us back and we really do hope we can come back again next year!

And then last week we returned to Anson Primary School, home of The Annies and our sixth annual visit. Here at Anson, our actors are all from Years 3&4, for many English is an Additional Language and some have Special Educational Needs too. So what immense courage they showed and what imagination! There were some truly beautiful moments watching an eight year old Romeo & Juliet enacting the ballroom scene where the star-crossed lovers first meet (including a lot of the original text if you don’t mind) and then the famous balcony scene. Ooh I’m filling up just thinking about it! And who would have thought that a tray of sausage rolls could bring the house down? In Romeo & Juliet I hear you ask? Well yes, of course……..but if you want to know how that fits in, you’ll just have to book a Shakespeare Project Week on Romeo & Juliet! As always, an enormous thank you to all the wonderfully dedicated staff at Anson but especially Mr Waters, Mr Clargo and Miss Batool who, as well as being fabulous teachers, are also an amazingly talented technical team (sound, lights and projection).  We look forward to coming back to present the second FINDING THE WILL Rising Star Annie Award in July!

The FINDING THE WILL Rising Star Award 2017

More exciting stuff coming up for FTW in the coming weeks. Rehearsal and Development of our new show ‘Naming The View’ and a week of Macbeth with Year 4 at a new primary school for us in Ealing. At some point I’ll have time to jot down a few words and keep you all updated.

Until then, thanks for reading and as they say in Verona…………Ciao!


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