By James Easey
This post is a response to one of the many exciting events currently happening for Platforma Festival in Newcastle.
Seeing 100 Newcastle Primary school children, dressed in the colours of the United Nations, perform a musical about refugee acceptance and treating all people with respect was a hugely uplifting and heartwarming day.
I was lucky enough to be with Caroline, from Grumpy Sheep Music, all day and see these Primary school children meet for the first time, rehearse together for the first time, and deliver an astounding performance. Some audience members were moved to tears as the children told the story of a Rabbit Family, who had their burrow destroyed, that tries to navigate to a new habitat. The poor Rabbits had to deal with unhelpful Chickens, uninterested Rats and evil Cats before finally being welcomed by a family of geese.
I spoke with Sheila Jackson, Deputy Head of St. Teresa’s Primary school, about the journey of putting on this play, As Free As A Bird. I asked her how it was to address refugee issues with children of this age and she said ‘They are very aware of the political situation, particularly as they get towards Year 6’ and continued to say that ‘learning through this musical and rehearsal process is a really useful means. Especially, for the younger students of our choir group to understand the situation currently happening – we are always working on global issues to be global citizens’
Sheila was hugely grateful for this opportunity from the Tyne Theatre, Caroline at Grumpy Sheep music, and to feature in the Platforma 2017 festival. She said ‘we are always looking for arts and drama opportunities, we really value them in our school’. She went on to tell me that, though there isn’t a huge refugee community within the schools local vicinity a lot of the children have had to move around a lot and that the issues of the play are very important to all of us. Sheila went on to tell us that ‘there will be a performance in the Parish Church’
Visit Grumpy Sheep music here.