Rosie's Adventure - 900 children tell their story!
The voices of 900 children united to tell a story of Shepton Mallet and a vision for our future.
On Friday 6th March St Paul’s CofE (VE) Junior School hosted an audience of 400 as nearly 300 children from six Shepton Mallet Primary Schools took to the stage.
The Schools came together to perform a play they have created together: Rosie’s Adventure.
The play was created through workshops and storytelling sessions with 900 children across the schools – throughout these sessions they shared ideas on where Rosie travelled, why she left, what was important to her, what she feels about Shepton Mallet and her ambitions for herself and her home town.
The hall was packed with community representatives from Shepton Mallet Town Council, many of Shepton’s local festivals, and staff, parents and Headteachers from across the six schools.
As well as featuring a lot of fun – Bowlish Infant School re-created an under the sea sequence with 16 light up jellyfish dancers; Stoke created a larger than life Tiger – the show also held some poignant messages about the power of community and the importance of looking after our world which evoked a profound reaction from audiences.
Parent: Claire Hitt commented “The impact it has had on so many people is amazing! Creating unity within a community, in a world that can seem very divided and daunting to young people and adults too is a very special achievement and you have achieved that this weekend! It really is a special feeling, one I feel the young people involved will treasure always”
Shepton Mallet Town Councillor and Food Forest Project Director Tristan Faith commented ‘I was absolutely bowled over by the children’s performance, the time and consideration that went into the whole thing and poignant and fundamental messages expounded through the writing. A magic evening that filled me with hope’
‘that show was so brilliant you should be very proud! Everything good about Shepton…. I loved it!’ Councillor Sharon Hale
Lucy Milton-Downes, Parent and St Paul’s CofE (VE) Governor: ‘You have created something that has been truly special for us all to be a part of. It's most certainly an experience that my children will always remember and hope that we all can learn from the messages that were given.”
Christina Kennedy from Shepton Mallet Snowdrop Festival wrote to say: The bringing together of so many schools and community groups and to project such a strong message touched my heart and made me cry. Thank you for bringing together the generations and making us all think about what is important.”
Hilary Cain from Wells Literature Festival noted: I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed ‘Rosie’ last night and what a brilliant achievement it was! The sets, costumes, music and the logistics of organising all those children in their individual creative slots - all amazing! It was such a good event for Shepton and the queues as we left spoke for themselves. So pleased we could be a small part of it.”
Throughout the process of making the show the children worked with a whole range of incredible artists and performers. Bowlish Infant School and St Aldhelm’s worked with Emma Hill from Chapel Dance Studio; St Paul’s C of E (VE) Junior School, Croscombe and Stoke St Michael worked with theatre-professional David Reakes and Shepton Mallet Infants worked with Emma Callendar from Theatre Uncut. Performances included re-creating a circus – with a larger than life tiger created with artist Claire Parr, and a planet facing an ecological crisis with the last tree on earth remining.
As well as performing in the show, students across the six schools also had the opportunity to create many of the puppets featured in the performance – many worked with shadow puppet specialist Martha King to create shadow puppets and short films Click here to see the films telling Rosie’s story. Students also worked with artist Jackie Brooks and Tall Tails Theatre Company to create the show puppets that helped animate the set. The lighting and sound were provided by Storm Productions Group with sound managed and supported by Tom Makin.
And the performance didn’t just feature children – there were also a couple of surprise guests – a voiceover from St Paul’s Headteacher Chris Partridge, Paddleboat theatre performed on stage as a real-sized Gruffalo, Higher Beings Circus gave a short illuminated poi demo as part of the circus act and Shepton’s very own Fairy Godmother took to the stage to prove that the magic of fairy’s and community really is alive in Shepton Mallet!
The performance closed with a speech from St Paul’s Headteacher Chris Partridge who praised all of the students fantastic efforts noting what a unique opportunity it has been to bring the schools together through creativity. He also gave Olivia Milton-Downes who played the lead of Rosie a special commendation from staff for her hard work and dedication.
The project has been orgnanised by Make the Sunshine CiC working in partnership with Bowlish Infant School, St Paul’s CofE (VC) Junior School, Stoke St Michael, St Aldhelm’s VA, Shepton Mallet Infants and Croscombe Primary. The programme of work has been made possible through support from The Arts Council, Wells Festival of Literature, Storm Productions Group, Literature Works, Shepton Mallet Town Council, Right Price DIY, Framptons