“Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog.”
Matilda Wormwood, Matilda
What a magical night we had celebrating the ‘wonderous’ work of Roald Dahl, on Wednesday 14 June. Two schools participated this year with a special appearance by a professional Youth Choir; this resulted in a sell-out show that they had been practising for months.
Speenhamland Primary School selected the magical tale of ‘The BFG’ and Miss Belcher stepped up to direct the performance, and took on the wise words of the BFG who told her “Don't gobblefunk around with words.” She worked tirelessly with her cast of year 5 and 6 pupils to recreate the magic from page to stage, working with the Corn Exchange’s education team who facilitated 6 workshops to help her along the process. These workshops included work on literacy, characterisation, and performance skills and so much more; Rachel, who led the group, was overwhelmed at how enthusiastic and energetic the group were and how they’d taken what they had learnt and brought the story to life. Speenhamland also surprised audiences with the introduction of a choir which included pupils from both Speenhamland Primary and Trinity Secondary school, this harmonic addition to the performance only added to the fantasy of the play that includes catching dreams and eating snozzcumbers (please be rest assured, no children were eaten in the making of this performance).
Next to perform were Bucklebury C of E Primary School with their adaptation of Dahl’s classic ‘Matilda’. Mr Higgs, Headteacher of Bucklebury, took to the role of director as well as his castings of Matilda in what was a very clever performance (much like the protagonist herself!). The group of pupils from years 5 and 6 were a very energetic and excitable bunch who worked with their Corn Exchange leader Katherine, as she delivered 6 workshops themed around the play; working on characterisation, movement and voice work, performance skills and the importance of staying in character. Mr Higgs then took the scenes of Matilda and cast very cleverly, having a different Matilda in each scene. Each protagonist was individual and special in their own way and with the chorus support from their class, made for a playful and clever piece. Every performer had a vital role to play, including the dreadful, disgustingly awful Headteacher Mrs Trunchbull. The somewhat sweet innocent child who took on the challenge of playing ‘The Trunch’ was mean in all the right ways (hopefully not taking her inspiration from any teachers at Bucklebury!). She forced poor Bogtrotter to eat the chocolate cake, made the class spell impossible words and swung children round by their pigtails. Obviously this behaviour was left on stage!
Finally, making their performance debut, Newbury Rocks Youth Choir opened our show in the most magical and melodic way. With choir leader Kat conducting, the group of young vocalists looked perfectly at home on our stage as they sang renditions of songs from ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, ‘Matilda the musical’ and a song from the film adaptation ‘The BFG’. Though the choir looked perfectly innocent they left us with the following advice: “Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty”. I will leave those words of advice for you to decide…
Words by Katherine Booth, Education Officer and Youth Theatre Leader