January 13th marked the first day of our fantastic collaborative project with Ocean Park Academy, a school in Splott, funded by Arts Council Wales under the Creative Learning through the Arts programme. We are now entering week five of the project and what a few weeks it's been!
We are delighted to have John Norton (Bordergame, City of the Unexpected) take the lead as director and it has been great to watch him develop a fantastic working relationship with the learners during creative sessions, which take place at the school every Friday.
The young people have been gathering their thoughts, sharing their interests and learning about the ideas process of developing a piece for performance. Grime seems to be a common love amongst the learners (and staff) so we invited Hip-Hop Director and Grime specialist, Nathan Crossan-Smith to conduct a full day workshop at the school. He was truly inspirational and all pupils from both Key Stages 3 and 4 came away from the day having devised their own lyrics, which John expertly set to a track of his own composition. The look on their faces as they heard their voices set within a professional-sounding track was awesome, in the truest sense of the word.
Last week, John led a philosophical debate based on Plato's Republic - not the sort of material these learners are necessarily used to discussing but the depth of their debate and the enthusiasm with which they carried the discussion proved that these young people consider deeply, react passionately and have voices that need to be heard. There then followed an actor's session with artist, Ali Goolyad, who helped encourage the learners' self-confidence and looked at ideas around body language and status, which resonated deeply with each of us.
Following this we raced back to NTW office to conduct interviews for the role of Assistant Director. We were very fortunate to have teacher, Dave and pupil, Tyler on the interview panel with us and we will be appointing this important role by the end of today - it's all going on!
We are very grateful to have Jay Bedwani and Gavin Porter documenting the process through film and photography and each has offered so much more by becoming actively involved not only in discussion but also in performing, encouraging the young people to see that this is a genuine work of collaboration with all involved.
This week we are thrilled to have Rhiannon White leading a session at the school so watch this space to see what magic she will have worked...
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