Angela shares the experiences of bringing a group of students to one of the Regional Playmaking Festivals in St. George's Hall, Bradford.
Angela is a Lead Teacher at our Lead Associate School St. Bede's and St. Joseph's in Bradford.
It wasn’t Much Ado About Nothing but rather 'Much Ado About Something Very Special'. Playmaking has become synonymous with a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon for our students and staff. This year, however, Playmaking for us was to be a regional festival – with our school cluster performing in the beautiful St George’s Hall in Bradford.
We had a theatre, a date in the diary and a plan. Passion and enthusiasm abounded as we auditioned and rehearsed our students for a live performance again after a long covid-induced hiatus.
As is often the case in school, rehearsal time can be limited and restricted to short lunchtime rehearsals but squeezed between food wrappers and frequently glugged bottles of water, were their coveted scripts. Our cast dutifully learned their lines and we were able to practice RSC rehearsal room techniques to explore the characters’ movements, voice, motivation and language.
As a teacher, I never ceased to be amazed by the level of talent, intuition and youthful insouciance of students who just calmly get on with it, reducing teachers to, “I don’t know what I was so worried about.”
Covid enforced change, creating the most innovate and multi-faceted mediums for our students to continue performing and promoting their work. They are here to stay. But there is still no feeling like that of an expectant and excited live audience – and they delivered. The RSC style warm-up from Paul and Julia set the performer's adrenaline and focus at the right pitch and the filled rows of students in the auditorium were costumed, bright-eyed, excited and ready to ascend the stairs to their stage.
The theatre buzzed with eager exchanges between students and their proud families. The opportunities working with the RSC affords our school extends beyond our students to their families too. Their enthusiasm and support is vital for our students to continue this work.
The directing and planning were executed with precision and the play flowed with seamless entrances and exits. It is a thing of beauty to see well over 100 students gel and blend and morph into one play – on that same day.
One student told me, “I now see his plays in a new light! I enjoy how he writes the characters.”
Another said, “It sounded like a really exciting opportunity. I’m glad I gave it a go!”
We were very lucky to be supported by governors and members of staff from across the school. Here are the responses from a couple of them. “The atmosphere was amazing and the hard work of our SBSJ actors alongside 111 performers from other schools across the district was incredible to watch. A massive thank you.”
“Another amazing opportunity you've given our pupils!! They did so well. Thank you and well done!”
There is irrefutable evidence that students benefit from participation in RSC projects, rehearsal room practices and pedagogy. Thank you to all those who continue to support our participation.