Mr and Mrs State-Ed
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of their daughter, Brannel
And they said it wouldn’t last! Actually, the working relationship between a state school situated in one of the most deprived areas of the UK, and the International School’s Theatre Association, has been hugely successful in many different ways, some hoped for and some entirely unexpected.
Brannel School serves an area in Cornwall, England, where 38% of residents have no qualifications and where 24% of children under 16 have been identified as living in Child Poverty. 20% of families with children attending Brannel School have no car. The school also serves an area where the population is 99.7% white British and where opportunities to engage purposefully in activities with children from other cultures and traditions are scarce. In so many ways, the school’s population is completely different from the populations of International Schools – and in so many ways it might be considered inappropriate for ISTA to be working with a school in such an area.
But then, after a moment’s thought, it becomes apparent why ISTA and Brannel are perfect partners. Children are children no matter what their background. Talent is not dependent on income. And, with a little help from people who care, theatre can overcome many of the obstacles of social and economic disadvantage, bringing people together to share, to learn and to celebrate.
Thus it was that ISTA and Brannel School were brought together by shared ideals and a belief in the arts. After an early flirtation in Norway, their relationship blossomed at festivals in Cornwall, Zurich and Terezin before they decided to take the big step in front of their many families and friends: and yes, they are hold a festival at Brannel School itself!
Brannel, being by far and away the junior partner, is quite nervous about the “big day” but has taken advice from those who have held festivals before and feels quite prepared. For those who you who don’t know, Brannel is one of the newest state schools in the UK – in fact it is so new that, at the time of writing, it hasn’t been officially opened! It has been designed with great attention to fostering the arts and can boast its own theatre, amphitheatre, drama studio, dance studio, film and editing suite, recording studio, composing suite, radio station and a whole lot more besides. It is the perfect venue for an arts festival (the RSC are to bring their Young People’s Shakespeare production to us for the second year running in September)and, based, as we are, in the beautiful county of Cornwall, opportunities to get out and about to pursue activities in the countryside or on the beach are many.
Our uniting theme for our very first festival is the poetry of Shakespeare, how the sonnets might be interpreted and how those interpretations might be communicated through a wide range of performance and media. We envisage ensembles exploring the language and images through voice, movement, music and art – and presenting through whatever means is considered most appropriate and the most stimulating. We also have the opportunity of working in and around the stunning property of Trerice, an intimate Elizabethan manor house – which we are hoping to have for an exclusive visit one night, which should be really exciting.
So … A “big day” (or three days) indeed. And after the photographs have been taken and the cake eaten, we hope that all of our guests will leave us having been enthralled with the festivities, moved by the performances and energised by the commitment shown by both parties to make this thing work. It was always going to be risk, but it is up to us to make sure that it is acknowledged as a risk that was worth taking. Please join us this November to celebrate Shakespeare and enjoy what theatre can do for this marriage. We look forward to welcoming you.
Written by Rob Lane