RNC students face their fears and perform for primary school audience!
Can you imagine standing on stage in front of a crowd of over 100 people? What about when that crowd is made up of 5 and 6 year olds all expecting to be entertained? Students at RNC (Royal National College for the Blind) were faced with this daunting challenge when they were tasked with devising and performing a brand new play for Year 1 students at local Hereford primary school, Lord Scudamore Academy. (You can watch the performance at the bottom of this page).
RNC Performing Arts teacher Cara Tivey explains “This is the third year in a row that we have collaborated with this school, in the past our students have been developing scripts, working with the children and taking a more director-style role whereas this year it was the RNC students who took centre stage. This was the main focus of their ‘Theatre in Education’ unit and the first group project of the year.”
17 year old Charlotte Milburn, from County Durham, adds “We went to the school with a list of possible themes and they chose ‘healthy eating’. As a group, we had to come up with an original idea. We worked on lots of techniques around improvisation, filmed it and then I watched the videos back and formed a draft script, changing lines so that they would be suitable for 5 year olds.”
None of the RNC students had any experience of children’s theatre as Molly Leary, 20 from Hereford, explained “I’ve never performed in front of children before; the plays that I have been involved in have been more adult-themed and serious dramas so I was really nervous getting on stage in front of so many children.”
The students had a tough dress rehearsal where they had to perform in front of the RNC student body, as well as staff members and the senior management team. Cara says “We explained that this was a rehearsal to practice performing in front of children so the audience had a role to play where they were required to act completely uninhibited, because that’s how kids are. This unit was designed to take our students completely out of their comfort zones, act silly and over the top and to be able to laugh at themselves. If you can’t laugh at yourself, how can you expect the kids to?”
Kelly Ann Steadman, 16 from Bristol said “Although it was really hard performing in front of all our friends, it was a lot of fun and we got some really good feedback which we used in the final performance in front of the school.” The school performance was the next day and went very well; there was plenty of audience interaction as the children had to guess what items of fruit and vegetables were described and then the children put their hands up to be picked to go up on stage and be part of the performance.
The basis of the show was Fiona the Fruit Fairy who lives in the fruity kingdom with her friends Annie Apple and Tanzie Tangerine. They encounter a Sweetie Monster and make it their mission to encourage him to eat healthy and get active while Nancy the narrator gives an overview of what is happening during the show. There was lots of singing and dancing which the children clearly enjoyed as they got up, cheered and clapped along.
Charlotte says “We wrote the script bearing in mind what bits we wanted the audience to react to but their engagement in the show completely exceeded all of my expectations.” After the show the atmosphere was very emotional as Charlotte summed up “I’m just so happy, it went really well and all of our hard work has paid off.”
At the end of the performance the children queued up to get their photos with the cast, 19 year old Robert Wood from London said, “We had to stay in character and I was the Sweetie Monster so had to make sure that I kept up the monster voice and scary persona; it was so much fun!”
Cara states “What’s been lovely for me to see, as a teacher, is the way in which the team have worked together. They all contributed to the script and the song lyrics and pulled together to create something vibrant and entertaining for the stage. To think that this performance was created from nothing is incredible – it’s definitely the best received children’s performance we’ve ever had.”
Charlotte says “I’ve enjoyed every minute of this whole process and this unit is very applicable to my future as I am going on to do a degree in Education Studies at university.”
If you are interested in finding out what opportunities are available for you to study with us, visit the RNC course pages, call our student enquiries team on 01432 376 621 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Article written by Bik Lee, Digital Media Officer at RNC
Watch the video; The Terrific Tale of Fiona the Fruit Fairy (and Friends)