As I always strive to be considerate to the most sensitive of you creatures, I must advise you to consider carefully before you proceed. This photo is a little misleading. You will find no talk of camellias here, in fact there is no garden content at all in this post. No flowers, no trees, no compost, no soil. Turn back now if this offends, quick, flee before it is too late. Don’t be too hasty though, this is a tale of nurturing, growth and inspiration.
Last night we went to a musical production by Ilfracombe Academy at the Landmark Theatre. We were given tickets by our neighbour, whose lovely daughter was performing. The production was Our House, written by Tim Firth with music by Madness, a morality tale, centering on choices and their repercussions. The soundtrack is one of my youth, songs as familiar as Happy Birthday or Three Blind Mice. To those performing it, I would imagine, these tunes would be as alien as a Beethoven symphony. Never one to reject a freebie, the promise of a glass of wine and a gossip, off we trundled through the monsoon to the theatre. Little did I imagine how much I would enjoy this evening.
What impressed me most was not that it was a great production, which indeed it was. It was clever show, with polished singing, dancing, acting, displaying emotional maturity. I wouldn’t want to single out any one performer in particular, although it is tempting. The leads were undoubtedly talented and charismatic, their support equally so, smattered throughout the play were golden nuggets including the hilarious car wash boss, the charming tap dancers, the hiss-inciting baddies and the surreal nun and priest duo.
But it was so much more than that. What struck me most was the magnanimity. Each and every one of the cast was valued and were aware of it, that was evident in their performance. There were potential West End actors alongside those who may never tread the boards again, and they were all embraced into the fold. Every performer was valid and valuable. They hadn’t been press-ganged, they were there from choice and it shone forth like a heart warming beacon. To me this embodies the guts of theatre, the very essence. Slick? perhaps not, but surely slick is for unimaginative fools. It was joyous, celebratory and real.
When the curtain eventually came down, it was to the sound of cheers, whoops and horrays, the glow of unbridled pride and perhaps the odd tear. Every single soul in that theatre was better than they had been when they first walked though the door.
The lessons that these student have learnt during this production must be immense, immeasurable. Each and every performers’ talent was mined and exhibited. Their strengths were nurtured, be it comedy, pathos, singing, dancing, centre stage or in the chorus. Unabashed, unfettered.
Of course we must acknowledge and applaud their tutors, guides and mentors. I am under no illusion that at times heads were hit against (sometimes) metaphorical walls. Their skills in persuasion, encouragement, teasing out the last vestiges of talent, must have been monumental. And all whilst battling the fug of teenage hormones. Fair play to you, medals should be coming your way. Please accept one from me.
This event showcased everything a young person should be, and should be encouraged to be. Not constrained, less “calm it down” more “let it rock”. Channel all that youthful energy, shout, jump up and down, misbehave a little, dance, live. I don’t want to be you, but I loved seeing you being allowed to be you. Thanks.