It has been an absolute pleasure to watch our Drama Masterclass members perform “Our Day Out” this week, a play by Willy Russell. I did not expect the emotions that it raised in me.
The play is about a school trip to Conwy Castle in North Wales. Mrs. Kay teaches a class of children with learning challenges, called the "Progress Class." The whole class, along with Digga and Reilly (the slightly older class bullies who used to be in the Progress Class) is taken on a coach trip. The Headteacher commissions Mr. Briggs, the authoritarian Deputy Headmaster, to supervise the trip.
The main storyline explored the contrast between Mrs Kay and Mr Briggs, with their opposing views on education. The two clashed repeatedly throughout the play, with each making clear what the other thought of their values, and this created tension throughout. Their interactions, and the subsequent responses from the children, made the audience question the purpose of education as a whole.
The children brought the story to life and for just over an hour I found myself in a different world, captivated but what I was watching. From the outset I could not relate well to the aggressive Mr Briggs, with his authoritarian approach to school life, although I did agree with the no sweets on the coach rule! There are better ways to secure good discipline than to shout at and dictate to children. Mrs Kay certainly had the warmth and care towards the children, which aligned better with my philosophy. Seeing the response of the unruly children in the play when Mr Briggs bellowed at them and restricted their every movement reinforced in our minds the need to really understand children.
However, my ‘take-away’ from the play was one of utter pride. It happens every time I watch children at Yateley Manor perform. Our Drama Masterclass performers were so polished, showed incredible levels of maturity and teamwork, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. When it all clicks into place, after huge amounts of rehearsal time, and we see the children work together, it fills me with admiration and pride. Somehow the children bring our school values to life on stage before our eyes and it certainly reminds me why I do the job.
The Collins Dictionary online defines pride as, “a feeling of satisfaction which you have because you or people close to you have done something good or possess something good.” If that is the case, then the children last night and this afternoon gave me immense pride. Bravo!