As if my already frazzled mind doesn’t have enough to cope with, I decide to get involved with lights. I mean, what I know about lighting rigs is probably not worth knowing, right?
It comes to me an hour before I’m to leave for half-term that the old and dusty rig we currently have (3 redundant spots facing the wrong direction) is to be replaced in our week’s break. Good news, I hear you say. You’d be right, constant blogger, for this year’s Monster, a decent lighting rig is going to add all the ambience and shadows we need. It will turn our Macbeth, Banquo and Macduff into the eerie, terrifying creatures they are, and as for the Wyrd Sisters…
I know nothing about spotlights, apart from that I’d like different gels (colour plates, for the uninitiated) and a dimmer switch for each. Apparently, that turns the job into a mega operation. What do I know, I struggle with re-wiring a plug! So, why was I =desperately scrabbling around with our brilliant site manager and fantastic bursar to negotiate a deal for said lights? Because I know it’ll be worth it. And here’s me thinking the director’s role was just yelling at the children: “louder, faster, more intense…” Hmm, perhaps not.
Lights (with new positions, gels and a dimmer please), camera, action…
Half-term is here, phew, time to breathe a sigh of relief. Thank goodness, one more block to go… Not so for me, constant blogger. For me, the end of this half-term simply means we are closer to the end, which means closer to unleashing the monster. A monster that is by no means even remotely tamed and ready for the summer!
Since last you read, both auditions have taken place and casting is set. Sure, there may have been a few upsets with children not getting the role they initially desired but now, they are up for the challenge – which is good, because a challenge it will most certainly be.
We get back after half-term on the 11th June to a frantic, transition-filled week (we feed to 12 different schools this year) and final preparations for our residential (we head for northern France on the Thursday). We get back on the Monday of the following week for more mayhem involving sports day prep (there’s that other big event in London this year…) more transition and the occasional game of rounders whilst we try to fit in much-needed rehearsal times.
I figure, we have 16 days (!) before the big unveiling and a mere 13 or so before our first dress rehearsal. That’s right, 13 days before a group of eleven-year olds and a frazzled teacher attempt to put on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, arguably one of his most challenging and iconic plays.
So, summer term is here and with it come all the trappings of madness, mayhem, musicals, moving on and… monsters. Last year, Team Six put on a show-stopping performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Admittedly, it was the S4K’s version, but, nevertheless it was still a monumental challenge for our 11-year-olds to step up to.
Some junior schools do touch upon Shakespeare in year six (some earlier) and they may embrace Romeo & Juliet, flirt with AMSND or get dark and moody with Macbeth – we did all three. And The Tempest too. Our children loved it, they found the language difficult (who doesn’t?) but they adored the characters; they found the plots, the twists, the tragedies and the imagery totally spellbinding. So, I foolishly (after seeing a live version of it in Wolverhampton with the children) decided that AMSND would be our end-of-year performance. What a stroke of genius/madness that turned out to be. Despite the exhausting nature of putting on performance, the visit from our friends, transition, leavers’ discos/ball/prizegivings et al, it was still a thrill to see these young children tackle Shakespeare and to do it so well.
I cannot take all the credit, to do so would be a dis-service to the team. It was a whole team effort and nobody takes more credit than the children themselves – they were astonishing. The songs, costumes, acting and general performance left parents in tears of joy, sadness and amazement.
How then do we top last year’s? What to do to continue in the wake of such a marvellous production? I did toy with the idea of putting on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – I’ve done it before and that too was excellent. But, after a short discussion and with this year group in mind, we settled for the metaphorical monster that is Macbeth.
We have a smaller cohort than last year (60:75) and there is a serious lack of girlpower but, Macbeth it is. Auditions begin this Friday with some of the team watching out for who has the deceitful powers of Lady Macbeth, the raw strength and poise of Macduff amd the ability to twist and turn in the skin of the titular role.
So hold on, buckle up and check in. This summer term is going to be a monster of a ride.