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Posted: 13.10.23

Three days of English Enrichment

This week we have had three consecutive days of enrichment led by the English Faculty, just a small snapshot of the wonderful experiences our pupils get to have beyond the classroom.

Head of English, Dr Gareth Evans reports:

Tuesday

On Tuesday, over fifty pupils in Year 11 travelled to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon to enjoy the RSC’s newest production of Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’. With excellent tickets in the stalls that meant some were able to touch the projected stage, our pupils were delighted and terrified in equal measure to witness the surprise ‘spawning’ of the three witches from beneath the stage – products of a post-apocalyptic Scottish wasteland – and a brilliant performance by Reuben Joseph (Hamilton) as Macbeth who, at one memorable point, questioned two of our unsuspecting boys directly (‘Is this a dagger I see before me?’) and began mimicking their actions.

It was an experience they will never forget and lessons since have been full of lively discussion about the innovative staging and representation of Shakespeare’s original themes and motifs, not to mention the ‘updated’ Porter scene  – rewritten especially by the comedian Stewart Lee  – that targeted contemporary ‘equivocators’ from the world of politics. Macbeth, after all, is a play about a man desperate for power but hopeless in office.

Wednesday

On Wednesday, pupils from St Nick’s and Alway were treated to a visit from the New York Times bestselling author, Dhonielle Clayton. Having written eleven novels for children and young adults, a host of computer games and a new Netflix series (Tiny Pretty Things), Dhonielle is a highly-successful and versatile writer at the top of contemporary publishing industry and pupils were excited to hear about her journey to becoming a writer and her new novel, ‘The Memory Thieves’.

The second book in a series of novels set in the ‘Marvellerverse’, it focusses on the lives and challenges of three young characters who are learning to harness their magic abilities at the Arcanum Training Institute, a floating school that moves around the globe. The questions that came from pupils showed how thoroughly rapt they were with the plot and the mechanics of the fantasy world that Dhonielle has built. Dhonielle left the school with our thanks having inspired the pupils and fired-up their imaginations, and many are now enjoying reading her work themselves.

Thursday

As part of our annual celebration of National Poetry Day, Alway gathered for a poetry recital competition in the Library on Thursday afternoon. During the week leading up to the competition, all Year 7 and 8 pupils had the chance to read from a selection of poems  – the theme this year was ‘Refuge’ – write their own poetry and perform in front of their class. Eight finalists were selected to perform in front of their peers in the newly-refurbished Library. The judges, Tomos and Efanna (sixth form), were delighted with the range of poetry on show –  poems included Matthew Arnold’s ‘Dover Beach’, ‘Invictus’ by William Ernest Henley,  Emma Lazarus’s ‘The New Colossus’ and ‘I Opened a Book’ by Julia Donaldson  – and the quality of the pupils’ recitals.

The winners were Anna for her heartfelt performance of ‘Homesick’, a poem written by a young refugee, and Freddie who gave a remarkable rendition of Brain Bilston’s famous palindromic poem ‘Refugees’ from memory. Special commendations went to Emily, Helisent and Tobias. A great time was had by all and we finished off the celebration with some well-deserved refreshments!

 

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