Woodpecker or Monkey brains? I mean when you’re the King of Scotland, you can have WHATEVER you want at your banquet! And at Westende Junior and Andover Primary this month, Kings Duncan and Macbeth did just that! More of their preferred menus later, but first…….
Four plays in two days
At Westende Junior we do something different. We work with all four year groups in KS2 (that’s the same as usual) but we work on a different play for each year group. For us, as practitioners, this is great fun (and very slightly exhausting)! Last week we went from Verona to Athens back to Italy and finally to Scotland!
ROMEO & JULIET
We began with Year 4 in Italy discovering the delights of a masked ball and the tragedy of ROMEO & JULIET. Dealing with the very adult themes in this play can be challenging, but not for these 8 & 9 year olds. We were particularly impressed by Prince Escalus (you absolutely wouldn’t mess with him!) and an especially heart-warming performance by Romeo himself. We hear that Year 4 now want to hold a masked ball themselves…………….
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
In the afternoon we moved on to Greece with Year 3. Now 7 & 8 year olds coping with falling in love is always going to be challenging so hats off to Helena who turned in a terrific performance! As did Peter Quince, seemingly one of life’s natural leaders. Despite its popularity in Primary Schools, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM is not an easy play – three story strands intertwining can make for a lot of confusion. However Year 3 was not remotely fazed. They were with it throughout and, judging by the gasps and the laughter, thoroughly enjoyed the comedy!
On Day 2 we returned to Italy. We set sail on The Good Ship Block Square Ship (you’re right, it didn’t trip off the tongue!) and, thanks to THE TEMPEST, finished up on Prospero’s Island. Again we witnessed some lovely performances throughout the morning. Cheeky Trinculo the Jester had some suitably dubious material (an elongated Knock Knock joke if you’re interested!). Meanwhile Caliban gave a really thoughtful performance concluding with a sadness at the end when he was left alone on the island. Well of course, now he can talk, he needs someone to talk to. Thank goodness then for the Royal Chef on board The Good Ship Block Square Ship who plans to return and open a restaurant especially for Caliban! I wonder if Woodpecker and Monkey Brains will feature on the menu…………
Finally it was the turn of Year 6 to discover the tragedy of MACBETH. They concluded that the real tragedy was the fact that he listened to his wife! She persuaded him to do what he didn’t really want to do and, thus, set him on a path of self-destruction. Lady Macbeth’s performance was fiendishly good. It was easy to see how Macbeth could be manipulated by her. During our discussion about ambition, we also heard one of the most niche ambitions I’ve ever come across – “A bio-scientist looking to improve prosthetics” – wow! I really hope that young lady achieves her ambition. And then we moved on to the poultry-heavy King’s Banquet! We began with the usual Chicken (roasted and nuggets naturally), Turkey, Goose, Pigeon and concluded with the delicacy of “Woodpecker seasoned with pepper”. I think there’s a tongue twister in there somewhere!
Huge thanks to Miss Ogilvie for organising the two days and inviting FINDING THE WILL back for a third year. We did receive a request from the Year 5 Royal Accountant to play Macbeth next year when he is in Year 6, so fingers crossed the Funding Gods allow us to return in 2024!
No Woodpecker but Monkey Brains!
The following day I went to Andover Primary School in Hampshire to work with Year 6 once again on
At this school I met the coolest Macbeth and Lady Macbeth ever! Lady Macbeth was stylish, bold and clearly revelled in being the centre of attention! Her handmade false nails, although slightly problematic when ‘washing her hands’, epitomised her fashionable attitude. Meanwhile her husband Macbeth was just as contemporary. Together they were a real power couple and improvised together beautifully. It was here that Monkey Brains appeared on the King’s table – a favourite of King Duncan’s and, latterly, Macbeth apparently. For this revelation we can thank the young man who played Fleance!
This was my first visit to Andover Primary (I hope it won’t be the last). Thanks are due to Mrs Scott for liaising with me to organise the visit.
Gender Blind Casting
As you all know, parts for female characters in Shakespeare’s plays are comparatively few. So, here at FINDING THE WILL, we have a policy of Gender Blind Casting – Girls can play boys and boys can play girls. Many of the male characters mentioned above were played by girls. And, for the record, Woodpecker seasoned with pepper, was also the invention of a young lady!
Thank you all of you – boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, males and females and those, like the characters of Puck and Ariel, who can be either, neither or both.
Here’s to next time!