... And before you know where you are, it's over!
It was a terrific day and the commitment form everybody involved from 6am call to the final unloading of the van back at St Marys at 11pm was total. On the way we played to close to four hundred - including 250 children - who were all taken on a magical journey through Kalku on a quest for a chest!
Apart from the quality of the work, the most incredible aspect of the project has been the mass Drama St Mary's participation from every year group and every pathway. This community event has brought together students who would not, within the current structure of the department, easily find opportunities to work together. It was great to see that they all, in turn, really relished the chance to host the event, to work with the children and above all have a load of fun doing so. Sometimes students have had to wait around for hours while the focus is on solving a specific problem, but they've all remained good humoured and absolutely willing to take on any job that needs doing. It's been a genuine pleasure to work with this company, at times I've felt a bit humbled by their investment. Weeks like this make me realise how good it is to work here!
I suspect, especially given the reaction of some of the Primary School teachers, that we're on the very edge of permissible, and although we had fifty actors, stewards and technicians all looking out for the safety of the audience, the teachers still seemed very nervous of the potential anarchy of the event. It's a tricky one - my feeling is that although some kids like formal structures and rules for behaviour, most love to run around, to climb onto tree stumps, to have their faces painted, to shout, to cheer, to tell jokes. The show was designed to allow some freedoms for the children, through their active participation - we certainly weren't interested in socialising them into passive bourgeoisie theatre going! The Lords of Misrule, who question everything, are more important than ever in creating exciting theatre for children.
More worrying, but linked to this, was that many of the teachers seemed uninterested in the play. They talked, held impromptu staff meetings and even made negative comments about how disruptive to the SATs taking kids out of school can be. I suppose the woes of a sad Caterpillar pale into insignificance if they don't tick a box. It seems a shame - the show was so full of opportunites to develop discussion and further work back in the classroom.
Molly, who came to the evening show, sensibly suggested that next year we arrange a walk round and briefing with the teachers as part of production week so that they're able to relax and genuinely support the children's participation in the show. This is a much better way to solve the problem than my over reactive response.