It seems a long time ago since our luxurious 10am starts in rehearsal and we now find ourselves 2 weeks into the Bind tour.

After the second week’s rehearsal saw a host of fine-tuning from characterisation to the application of music and increasing technical problems (how to keep flimsy plastic poles upright without snapping, keeling over or simply welding them to the floor – the solution? Buckets, sandbags and good old fashioned card n’ glue) we were able to share an open rehearsal of Bind with an invited audience which allowed for some extremely helpful feedback . This allowed the cast to feel confident about what has become a richly layered performance full of subtle complexities and layers of meaning.

And so we eased into the first schools performance by returning to Norbury Manor Business and Enterprise College, Croydon, (who also received Separated in 2008) where we received a very warm welcome including endless biscuits and home-made cake! But more importantly, an engaged group of year 9 girls who responded positively to the performance and following workshop.

Emboldened by a successful first day and after a rest we headed to Eltham Hill Technology College and Riverston school, both in Greenwich and again received an overwhelmingly positive response. Thankfully the work spent on building the set has allowed a mobile performance space which means we can work in a variety of spaces, from tiny stuffy classrooms to enormous echoey halls. The student audience seemed transfixed by the transformation of the spaces and the ease with which a few upturned tables and a couple of poles in buckets could delineate time and space.

I’ve also found myself thinking that one of the reasons the performance has such draw is due to the amount of integrity both actors bring to their multiple roles, undoubtedly helped by a detailed and intensive rehearsal process.

The first week considered an overall success, (visiting a total of 225 young people and viewed by 12 teachers) we were able to look at practical applications of certain issues, including the development of the workshop. With the help of Ann and Sabrina this has become a much more fluid and structured entity, allowing students both time to reflect on and discuss the play’s themes and also to create their own work as a further development.

On a personal note, the arrival of the long-awaited mice and their subsequent audience reaction when revealed by the character of Lucy was perhaps a highlight of the week, and vindication for fruitless trudging round West-end shops. I almost shed a silent tear of joy…

The second week saw a visit to 3 more schools and over 430 students and 22 teachers, including the John Roan school, Greenwich, Harris Academy Bermondsey and Hendon School, Barnet.

Positive feedback from students and teachers alike has really validated my feelings towards the project, along with the chance for students to question the main characters in ‘hotseating’ sessions and in subsequent discussions, demonstrating the watching students’ capacity to grapple with quite complex themes.

A successful week marred only slightly by my breaking a rib in the middle of it and adding some much un-needed stress to early mornings! However muddling together has seen us through to the weekend safely enough, with the additional help of some very helpful year 9 boys from Hendon who I wish I could take with me everywhere to order around as my minions, but alas…

Help is at hand for next week however so I look on without fear or trepidation toward a busy week in Newham and Greenwich.

By Alex Kaye, Education Officer

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