Matilda's magic takes over Sunderland classrooms for RSC workshops

Children struck a pose inspired by the magical Matilda musical.

Wednesday, 23rd May 2018, 6:03 am
Royal Shakespeare Company practitioners (left to right) Anna Marsland, Joe Cummings and Chris Piper with pupils from Our Lady, Queen of Peace Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided Primary School.

Pupils from Our Lady Queen of Peace Primary School in Penshaw got in the theatrical spirit as part of a workshop centred around the hit musical - copying Matilda’s pose from the show.

As part of the West End show’s run at Sunderland Empire, producers The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) are visiting schools as part of its Change My Story education programme.

Royal Shakespeare Company practitioner (left to right) Chris Piper with pupils from Our Lady, Queen of Peace Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided Primary School.

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The RSC teamed up with the Empire’s Creative Learning department to sign up three schools, including Benedict Biscop Academy and Hudson Road Primary School, to become Change My Story champions.

As part of their role as a champion, 30 year 5 children from Our Lady Queen of Peace took part in their first workshop session led by RSC practitioners. Over the coming months the three Sunderland Champion Schools will work with the RSC and Sunderland Empire to stage a special 45-minute edit of Matilda The Musical as their school play.

Barbara Reilly-O’Donnell, head teacher at Our Lady Queen of Peace, said: “We are thrilled that our pupils have the opportunity to work with the RSC and to perform Matilda. The children each have particular gifts and we are delighted that they have the chance to develop them further. We can’t wait to share the performances with our families and friends and to use the skills that are being developed as a result of this project in further productions.”

The project involves committing to a two-year programme of creative work, including professional development and training opportunities for teachers and working with other local schools to share skills and knowledge from the programme.

Matilda the Musical on stage

Fiona Ingram, head of education programmes at the RSC, said: “We are really excited to be working with Sunderland Empire and the inspirational Sunderland Schools Theatre. We are just starting the Change My Story journey and Sunderland teachers and students will be some of the first we work with building on skills of directing, choreography and musical direction.

“Their passion for the project and this exclusive new Champion Schools edit is a very exciting mix and we can’t wait to see how the works develops with them.”

Anthony Hope, acting creative learning manager, Sunderland Empire said: “We are delighted to work with the RSC on this exciting champion schools education programme which promises to support a lasting cultural legacy in Sunderland. The schools are only in the early stages of the project and it is truly inspiring to see the positive impact the workshops are having on both the young people and teachers involved.”

•Matilda The Musical is at Sunderland Empire until June 2. Read our review online in our What’s On section.