It's a Drama in Cornwall
Last weekend, ten A Level Drama students headed off for Cornwall.
4 hours of carpool karaoke later we pulled up at our first destination – an enlightening and interactive workshop at Redruth’s ‘The Writer’s Block’. This was led by Rebecca Gregson, author and former Kneehigh Theatre Company board member, and it stimulated creative thinking and reminded everyone to focus on developing a character rather than an elaborate plot, which was useful for the Lower Sixth, given the development of our devised performance. It was also useful for our Upper Sixth students, as they found that they could explore further and understand what they have taken on in their performance of ‘The Roses Of Eyam’. Having met George, Layla and Xavier (our new alter egos), along with a plethora of other contrasting characters created in the workshop, we drove off for further team bonding in the form of a ‘family trip’ to Asda and a surprisingly successful cooking session. Fajitas, tacos and nachos at the ready, we discussed what we had learned from the workshop and ended our first day with some Kneehigh-inspired ‘playful anarchy’, challenging each other to various card games and a pub-style quiz.
The next day came and the sleepy students were awoken by the dulcet tones of Mr Morgan singing along to his speaker whilst boiling the kettle. With everyone fed and watered, we spent an eye-opening morning at the Minack Theatre, where the Lower Sixth students were given the stimulus for our devised piece – simply being told to look around us. As fate would have it, we landed on our feet, as an experienced storyteller (Mark Harandon) was performing that Saturday, and told us the tale of the Rowena Cade and her gardener, Billy Rawlings – who singlehandedly built the Minack without any of the technology that we take for granted nowadays. We were especially enamoured with the love/hate relationship Harandon presented between the two; with them often arguing, resulting in Billy storming off and Rowena calling after him: “See you tomorrow Billy”. Our luck didn’t end with the story! We obviously made a good impression on Mark Harandon, as he gave us a tour of the areas of the Minack which are usually restricted to the public and answered our many questions. In high spirits we set off down 99 steps (also built by Billy and Rowena) to the Telegraph Museum, followed by a visit to Porthcurno beach where the Upper Sixth students explored more of their performance text ‘The Roses of Eyam’ and the Lower Sixth students staged a small scene inspired by what we had learnt from Harandon, inspired by Kneehigh, which was very fitting due to our coastal location.
The final full day in Cornwall began with a group writing session around the kitchen table with mugs of tea in hand. The day then consisted of a trip to the beautiful town of Fowey, to explore the local area, and a much-anticipated trip to ‘Game of Cones’ – the best ice cream shop in all of Cornwall. Due to our incredible charm and acting skills, we did snag a few freebies! We then journeyed to Charlestown, nicknamed ‘Cornish Hollywood’ by Emily, Lower Sixth, as some poignant episodes of the BBC series ‘Poldark’ were filmed there. Deciding to take advantage of the beautiful location, the whole cohort staged ‘The Parados’ from ‘Antigone’ (one of our set texts), on the harbour walls, which stood in for the gates of Thebes and provided fabulous acoustics. Despite some heckles from a few cheeky swimmers, Mrs Witcomb was told by a member of the public: “My daughter, who is a Drama teacher herself, would pay to have students as engaged as yours”, so our performance was obviously satisfactory! We then topped the day off with a meal followed by karaoke with the locals, which saw Mrs Witcomb and Mr Morgan (after a lot of persuading) begin the countdown to Christmas with their rendition of ‘The Fairytale of New York’.
Day four was fuelled by a hearty fry up, and with beds stripped and the minibus packed we made our final journey in Cornwall to St Ives, where we engaged in a Kneehigh inspired game of hide and seek around the harbour and town, to explore the merits of play. It was with heavy hearts and sandy feet that we got into the minibus to head back to Worcester; a trip that was lightened by some throwback tunes and the promise of a trip to the Jamaica Inn, where the hot chocolate was as good as promised! It’s safe to say that we return as a much stronger cohort of A Level students, feeling enlightened and inspired.
Written by Darcey Chambers and Emily Stanley (Lower Sixth Drama)