In collaboration with Waltham Forest Music Service, we toured our show, Stripes, to 10 primary schools in the borough, performing to over 2000 pupils over the four days. We had an amazing time making music, telling stories, and invoking great discussions at every school; scroll down to read about exactly what happened in each tour day.
DAY 1 – 23rd MAY 2019
The tour got off to a flying start at Whitehall Primary School. At 9:15, 110 children watched Stripes, engaging the teachers present just as much as the children in song and post-show discussion. Fahema, a member of the Whitehall teaching staff, gave a fantastic summary of Stripes, highlighting the themes of mutual respect and self-discovery, and all the pupils present were absorbed and vocal throughout.
The second school of the day was Hillyfield at the park (not to be confused with its sister school, Hillyfield on the hill, which we visited later on the tour!) Despite this show being a relatively last-minute arrangement, Hold The Drama felt very welcome and performed to one of the most receptive audiences of the tour. Despite this obviously being a very musical school, one teacher said that Stripes was “hands down the best thing we’ve ever had at this school, it was absolutely beautiful”.
We ended day one at Barn Croft Primary School, with a performance for the year fives and sixes. Despite the heat inside and out, the whole room was enraptured, and there were lots of emotional reactions from individuals too: a number of children reached out to hug and comfort players whose characters were at their saddest point in the story, and there were cries of delight when their issues were resolved later on. A great end to day one of the tour!
DAY 2 – 6TH JUNE 2019
Day two began with a brilliant welcome at Riverley Primary School from Lewis Delivett, the head of music at the Griffin Schools Music Trust. The first school we’ve ever been to where we were given a biscuit-filled proper green room; we were certainly treated like rockstars! The children at Riverley were extremely musical, engaging very well with the interactive parts of Stripes, and provided brilliant insight and commentary on the show in the Q&A.
This was followed by a very short walk down the road to our next school, Willow Brook primary, another school in the Griffin Schools Trust. The group we performed to were some of the most enthusiastic children to ever see Stripes – they were lively, responded to rhythms in the show with clapping and stamping, and were both noisy and completely silent at different (but all appropriate places! Later the school thanked us for “a thought-provoking interpretation of issues about well-being and inclusivity through their performance”.
Day two ended at the second Hillyfield site, this time at Hillyfield on the Hill! The partner school had passed on how much they’d enjoyed Stripes, and the second site were so inspired that the entire school came to watch! 600 children is the most we’ve ever performed to, but Stripes went down a treat, with a number of fantastic responses in the Q&A at the end. Thanks so much for having us Hillyfield, day two over and out!
DAY 3 – 20th June 2019
The third day of our tour of Waltham Forest began in the hall of Coppermill Primary School, performing to 100 children from across a wide range of year groups. There were lots of fantastic musical responses throughout the show, and, as is normally the case, our amazing audience was loud and quiet at all the appropriate moments! Coppermill pupils were particularly in awe of Edward’s singing, which inspired the question “how does Ed sing like an angel?” in the post-show discussion! There were also a number of other fantastic reactions, such as “You don’t have to do what everyone else wants, follow your heart and do what’s right for you” and “You were testing out what you were good at and what talents you have”
A short taxi ride later, we arrived at the second school of the day, South Grove Primary, where we were joined by the child and adolescent psychotherapist, Louise Keller. Despite the fire alarm going off 30 seconds into the show, pupils at this fantastic school were entirely engaged with Stripes: towards the end of the show, the song ‘Ah, Poor Bird’ provides a platform for the characters to reconcile their differences, and the audience is taught the song and invited to join in. At South Grove, however, no teaching was needed as the song was already known! This made for one of the most powerful and memorable moments of the tour; the singing was so dynamic and emotionally overwhelming that some were even brought to tears. Click here to read what Louise Keller had to say about Stripes!
DAY 4 – 4TH JULY 2019
Our last day of tour! Despite a double booking at Henry Maynard Primary school, we got off to a flying start in the school music room. Although this was a much smaller performance space than we’re used to, it made for a very intimate show and allowed us to communicate emotions and music at a very personal level. We were very impressed by the reactions of year one to the show – even though they were some of the youngest viewers of Stripes, it was great to see such emotionally intelligent responses to the storyline. Thanks for having us, Henry Maynard!
The final performance of the Waltham Forest Stripes tour took place at Thorpe Hall Primary School, and what a perfect way to round everything off! Beautiful and expressive singing, enthralled watching and listening from all year groups, and incredible responses in the Q&A from teachers and pupils alike: “You were feeling like an outcast, but you don’t have to conform to the norm!” We were sad to finish our tour but the response from Thorpe Hall was the perfect note to end on.
A MASSIVE thanks to all of the schools involved in the Hold the Drama Waltham Forest tour – keep enjoying music and hopefully see you all again in the future!