With two weeks to go until Cabbages and Kings opens the Level 1 students have begun taking the KS2 Maths workshops into schools. This morning I was out early and down to Coombe Hill Primary, just the other side of Richmond Park to see Jazmin, Maya, Laurence and Ania run two ninety minute workshops with a couple of year five classes.
They really went for it, giving great value and a wonderful time to the children. The team had done some great work since the dress rehearsal at the beginning of Easter and were really sharing the workload. The group had gone for a smart mixture of storytelling and problem solving - which seemed to work really well. I've never seen children so hungry to do fractions and all because their answers were needed by Alice in order that she could calculate how much she needed to shrink by to get through the tiny door into the secret garden.
My only worry was the huge, almost manic amount of energy invested into the activities. It's the children's TV syndrome, where everything has to be loud, bright and exciting. Although this certainly keeps the work rigorous and the children involved, it leaves little time for personal reflection or consolidation of ideas.
By the time the first session was over the team tired and a bit confused as to how primary school teachers manage six hours a day, five days a week.
No time for recovery though as another group were lined up expectantly by the door.
I headed back to rehearsals - more time fitting the Level 1 ensemble into the action. We reblocked the photographic sequence, which has finally been fully cast, and added more voices to the flamingos love song. These layers are really helping now and every day the final shape becomes clearer.
Mark is the Academic Director of the Drama Programmes at St Mary's University in Twickenham. He has worked internationally as a theatre director and educator for the past 15 years, focused mostly on youth, community, and conflict resolution work.
As a lecturer Mark taught at Goldsmiths College, Coventry University and was Head of Performing Arts at Canterbury College prior to joining St Mary’s in 2006.
His Professional directing credits include Henry V (One of US?) and Valhalla for RSC Education; The Wind in the Willows, Jack Cade, The Red, Red Robin for Sevenoaks Playhouse; Tender Souls, The Quality of Mercy and Playhouse Creatures for the Ambassadors Theatre group.
Mark is a director of subVERSE Theatre company for whom has directed fringe premieres of Chief, Dinnertime and OxfamC**t at Theatre 503.
Site specific work includes Purka and Shadow on Icelandic volcanoes and Novocento with students from the University of Genoa.