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Posted: Wednesday 23 July, 2014
From Monday 21st to Wednesday 23rd July, The Mission Theatre once again played host to a 25 strong group of Spanish teenagers, over from Madrid as part of the Dream and Learn Spanish Summer School.
For the past five years, this enthusiastic group of students, ranging in age from 11-18, have travelled to England to improve their grasp of the English language through lessons, theatre studies and activities.
Along with members of Next Stage Youth, this year’s group took part in workshops based around Next Stage’s recent production of Oh What a Lovely War, and looked into the background of the play and the lives of people during The Great War.
After watching the matinee performance of Oh What a Lovely War, the Spanish Students studied the play and the war in lessons; using videos and slides from Next Stage’s production. They brought this knowledge of the war to the workshops at The Mission, where they put into practice everything they had been taught, in the form of improvisation, script reading and discussion.
On the first afternoon, members of Next Stage Youth and Dream and Learn played theatre games as a way of learning each other’s names and gaining confidence within a large group of people. They then learnt the song which gave its name to the musical: 'Oh It’s a Lovely War'. Four actors from the production taught everyone the words and the choreography that went along with the song, until everyone was singing and dancing along.
On Tuesday, the whole group, plus Next Stage Youthers, split up into pairs or groups of 3 and worked on a short scene, which they had to develop themselves. The basis for the story they had to tell was a boy going off to fight in the war and saying goodbye to his Mother/Sister/female friend. This storyline highlighted for the students how difficult it was for both those people going off to war and also the people they left behind. The quality of the finished pieces were very impressive, each group had thought of a different angle to use when telling the story and the English vocabulary used by all of the Spanish students was to a very high standard.
On their final day, fight choreographer Nicky Wilson joined the group to teach them basic circus skills - a link to the opening of the production where all the actors are dressed as Pierrots inside a circus tent. As the production, like The Great War itself, involved a lot of death - from bullets, bombs and bayonets - Nicky also taught the group how to convincingly ‘die’ in various different ways. Despite the gory subject matter, a lot of fun was had by all during this session!
These three workshops all lead up to a final concert to be performed at Monkton Combe School on Thursday 31st July, and so for the last part of the last session the Musical Director of Oh What a Lovely War came in to sing and play with the group the three songs they had learnt over their time at The Mission: 'Oh It’s a Lovely War', 'Gassed Last Night' and 'Keep the Homefires Burning'. Everybody had learnt the lines and the moves, which made for a very enjoyable, and very entertaining last day of workshops. We are sure the concert will be fantastic after all the hard work these students have put in!