Plymouth Theatre Royal School Ties Project gives young people from Eggbuckland Community College and Austin Farm Primary School a hands-on experience
PUPIL power took centre stage at the Drum last week – with a double bill created by two schools.
The Theatre Royal School Ties Project was designed to give young people from Eggbuckland Community College and Austin Farm Primary School a hands-on, start-to-finish experience of putting on a production.
What began with pooled ideas ended with a polished production for the pupils to be proud of.
The aim was to develop confidence in students as they make the transition from primary to secondary school, and to build creativity and self-belief across the curriculum.
This was achieved through the challenging and exciting disciplines of mounting a live show.
Throughout the autumn term pupils from both schools immersed themselves in all aspects of theatre production. From front of house to backstage, from script-writing and programme design to marketing, pupils launched themselves into the essential creative ingredients required to turn an idea into a piece of live theatre. The success of this was evident on the opening night. Pupils from Austin Farm Primary School were pleasantly ushering people to their seats with a cheery: "I hope you enjoy the show".
In the interval pupils helped with the ice creams and manned a stall with show-related goods; nice touches that we are inclined to take for granted, but which contribute an important part to a positive experience at the theatre.
And so to the shows. The first production, A Girl Called Eva, was written by Eggbuckland Community College students and performed by Austin Farm Primary School.
Based around Eva, a girl who finds it hard to fit in, it was poignant, funny and ultimately uplifting, with a happy and positive outcome.
Much of the play is set on The Hoe, with some engaging improvisations and cameos, such as the creation of Smeaton's Tower and a particularly hilarious fairground duck shoot.
Eggbuckland Community College presented The Lemons' Labyrinth Lives – about twins who go into foster care.
Written by Austin Farm Primary School pupils, it sees one adjust seamlessly and the other struggle.
This, like Eva's story, has an up-beat ending, but both plays touch on the realities of bullying and rejection. Like all good scripts they entertain but, without being didactic, use drama to highlight important issues.
The second production's staging was particularly inventive, using minimalist props with pupils doubling as settees and light standards then, with a swift scene shift, becoming a wood of bare branches.
This engaging evening was a worthy culmination of lots of enthusiasm and diligence from all taking part.
Full marks to pupil power.