Creative Learning Week
By Kevin Quilty
The excitement was building throughout the week as last rehearsals were taking place, final Directors notes were being shared and costumes were getting the finishing touches and adjustments before Creative Learning Week took to the Main Stage from 3 -5 July.
Earlier in the week we welcomed the Work Experience students into the Theatre to have a real taste of the backstage environment, and they were eased in to the programme during a very chilled and relaxed Open Mic night hosted by Arts Train on the Thursday night in the stalls bar. The smaller stage and intimate atmosphere for the new singer songwriters was a great curtain raiser ahead of BandFest on the Friday night.
BandFest was a new partnership event for Creative Learning, and together with BYMT and ArtsTrain we had 212 young people performing in one evening for the first time on a professional stage. The first half of the night was dedicated to 5 young local bands performing original material and they stormed the stage to the screams of delight from a packed auditorium and encouraged by MC Emmanuel. The second half saw the new BYMT Rock School perform some classic covers and they were joined on stage by the BYMT Rock Choir- 160 local primary school children that tore the place up with their performances and brought the audience to their feet for a great finale.
The weekend was still ahead with even more surprises and delights in store; on Saturday afternoon the Young Drama classes took their audience around the world with colourful performances of Rumble in the Jungle and Wild Goose Lake ending with the Garden of Enchantment and impressed everyone with their confident performances on the big stage!
Wojtek: The Happy Warrior
Later that afternoon the tone changed as we prepared to settle down for Wojtek: The Happy Warrior, a brand new play by The Quarter Too ensemble. Based on a true story about a 20 stone Syrian bear Wojtek who was adopted by regiment from the Polish Free Army during WW2, fought alongside them, loved beer and wrestling and ended his days as a celebrity in Edinburgh zoo. The play had everyone gripped from the very start, as it used live music and playful storytelling techniques to take us on Wojtek's journey; and the large family audience were glued to their seats in excitement to see what happened next. The play is now going up to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and we hope they get the same rapturous support from the audiences there as they did at the Churchill. We will keep you posted!
Finally it was the last day and our Summer Showcase. All the Creative Learning classes that run across the year at the theatre get the opportunity to perform on stage in the summer; and we look forward to seeing a really diverse, quality night of new shows. Slo-Mo are always a highlight and their 1940s themed dance of Appletree with the ladies in authentic headscarves and overalls was a fantastic start to the afternoon and was followed by the comic Best of British Monologues from Act Two and a stirring and dramatic Flamenco performance. The final act was one of contrasts as Young Company 1 provided us with a hilarious and inspired improvisation based on The Box and had the audience really fired up for the final piece; Whitechapel Division, a melodrama set in Victorian London around the time of the Ripper murders but with a twist. Written entirely by Young Company 2 members, it had everyone guessing who the murderer could be, and was an appropriately skilful and ambitious end to our Creative Learning week.