‘Who wants to live forever’ crescendos,15 actors from Heritage Park Year 6 slowly stand and take a bow. And then the music rises and falls as another 105 actors from Years 3-6 also stand to take their well deserved applause, before the whole company takes one more call altogether to the emotive strains of Freddie Mercury. A fitting end to a phenomenal performance of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ by KS2 at Heritage Park Primary School, Peterborough.
Richard and I have been visiting Heritage Park Primary for twelve years now so it is always like a homecoming when we return. From the moment we get out of the car there is someone shouting “Hello Jules and Richard!” be it a teacher, pupil or parent – lovely! As always the play we are doing is a closely guarded secret until we arrive to start work with the children but the excitement and anticipation is palpable. ‘Romeo & Juliet’ is of course well known and even the seven and eight year olds have somehow heard of it, but it’s not easy. It’s a very grown up play, with very adult themes, and lots of experiences that none of our actors will have encountered in their short lives. And that’s just the falling in love aspect, never mind the street gangs, knife crime, death and suicide. For some people it begs the question ‘Who would choose to do this play in a primary school?’ Happily many, because it’s an important play for raising awareness of all those things especially in the world today. It shows how dangerous it can be not to question but merely accept, how quickly situations escalate, how futile long-standing feuds are and how ultimately there are no winners. Suddenly ‘Who wants to live forever?‘ is a very big, very relevant question even for an eight year old. Add into all of that deep stuff a mixture of original and modern day text and you can see why FINDING THE WILL was so phenomenally proud of the courageous, mature and moving performances by KS2 last week.
The current Year 6 crop at Heritage Park has performed ‘Twelfth Night’, ‘The Tempest’, ‘ A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and now ‘Romeo & Juliet’ with us. So they are leaving for Year 7 and beyond armed with a bank of Shakespeare knowledge and, most importantly, the knowledge that they have a voice which deserves to be heard. Coming up behind them is some terrific talent. Year 5 was responsible for the ball scene and the balcony scene – Romeo and Juliet in both those scenes each gave extraordinary, powerful performances. And the best thing was they were completely oblivious to how brilliant they were! All 121 actors gave their very best and we could not have asked for more from any of them.
Here is a sample of some of the reaction after the performance:
“Fab performance as always you guys always bring out the best in our children. They always love Finding the Will week x”
“Another great week with u both, never ceases to amaze me how much confidence the children gain during ‘Finding the Will’ week ?”
“I didn’t manage to see it all but I saw from the balcony scene and it looked amazing as always. Of course, I heard lots from the actors too! I’m just waiting for the year when you release the ‘Finding the Will’ soundtrack Vol 1…???”
“?❤️?? you are absolutely fabulous Jules and Richard”
We had a magical week and one that will stay with us for sometime. So huge thank you to Miss Bell for inviting us back AGAIN! And of course to all the wonderful staff and, not least, our terrifically talented company of actors. ‘Who wants to live forever?’ -we do if we can keep having weeks like last week! We’re in the diary for next June when the play will be……..sorry no spoilers!