Explore at the Kings Theatre

Students from The Cowplain School in Waterlooville and young pupils from local primary schools put on a fantastic show at the Kings Theatre, Southsea.

July 2017: Students from The Cowplain School in Waterlooville and young pupils from local primary schools put on a fantastic show at the Kings Theatre, Southsea.

Explore was the brainchild of Sue Dobbyn, Head of Music at The Cowplain School, who wanted to showcase young people’s talents in the performing arts. She approached the Headteacher with this ambitious idea in January 2016 and hired the Kings Theatre as the venue for a show featuring children aged 6-16.

Funding for this project was secured from The Cowplain School PTA and Cowplain staff had training to deliver the Arts Award scheme, run by the Arts Council, to help the primary students secure their Explore Arts Award.

All the local primary schools were invited to take part and each had a 15 minute slot to showcase their work. For six months pupils from Berewood Primary School, Denmead Junior School, Hambledon Primary School, Hart Plain Infant School, Padnell Infant School and Padnell Junior School worked with students and staff from The Cowplain School to take part in a variety of Arts workshops, each focusing on Drama, Dance, Art or Music. Each school decided on a theme before planning their piece, making their own props, choosing costumes and rehearsing for the big night.

The evening was superbly hosted by Liv Belcher and Lewis Mitchell, Year 11 students at The Cowplain School who have recently sat their GCSE exams.

Music was provided by The Cowplain School band, Jukebox and the Sambistas playing their samba drums. Students from Cowplain performed songs from Wicked, Footloose and Revolting Children from Matilda.

At the end of the evening, the youngsters from all of the schools gathered on stage for an emotional grand finale. Wearing specially designed T shirts they sang Can’t Stop the Feeling, Happy and I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) to a standing ovation from parents, family and friends before the confetti cannon fired into the audience.

Sue Dobbyn, Head of Music at the Cowplain School said: “Words cannot express how incredibly proud I am of all the youngsters from our community who performed tonight. Both they and their teachers have worked so hard to produce their pieces and the support from our partner schools has been incredible. The finale was simply stunning and everyone performed with such passion that people were on their feet during it, as well as giving the children a standing ovation at the end.”

Ian Gates, Headteacher at The Cowplain School said: “What an evening! During 22 years of teaching I have been to lots of concerts but I am going to say this one was the most enjoyable one I have ever seen. Absolutely amazing!”

He added “It was a concert showcasing the amazing talents of young people from The Cowplain School and many of our other local schools. We are all extremely proud of the superb children who took part and know that they have experienced something that they and their parents will remember for a long time.”

The children from Hart Plain Infant School took to the stage in boiler suits and brooms, and chose Stomp as their theme.

Ruth Kenny, Headteacher at Hart Plain Infant School said: “The whole concept has been really exciting and a fantastic opportunity we will never forget. Tonight has been really well organised.”
She added “The whole experience has been wonderful for our children and I have seen them grow and develop in lots of ways. Their resilience has developed, their confidence has grown and I am sure that the memories we have helped them form will stay with them forever.”

Paul Davies, Headteacher at Hambledon Primary School, added: “I would just like to thank Cowplain for this once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Emma Smile, Year 2 Teacher at Padnell Infant School said: “The children have really enjoyed themselves and risen to the challenge, I am so proud of them tonight.”

She continued “They have really enjoyed working with Miss London from Cowplain and taking part in all the sessions. What a fantastic opportunity for them.”

Denmead Junior School pupils chose Romeo and Juliet as their theme, specially rewritten for the evening.

Talking about the whole project, Kobi Palmer, a Year 5 pupil at Denmead Junior School, said: “I’ve loved it. I’ve loved everything about it. Tonight is the best bit!”

The pupils at Padnell Junior School opted for Zombie Invasion as their theme. Their scene began in a warehouse in downtown New York. The children played hide and seek and then danced to Thriller by Michael Jackson as the zombies appeared.

George Livermore, Year 5 pupil at Padnell Junior School, was really enthusiastic about the evening: “We have a lot of people dressed as zombies. I like the fact that we are working as a team to pull off an amazing project. I am the head boy survivor and have the opening line ‘Lily, come over here a minute’”.

Laura Annalls, Year 5/6 teacher at Berewood Primary School, said: “We have only brought 10 students. I feel that being a small school, our students would not have had this opportunity. It’s amazing. They have been so excited about it for a long time.”

Lots of the Year 5 pupils from Berewood wanted to comment on the project:

Millie Vine, aged 10 years, said: “It’s been an exhilarating chance.”

Deborah Usuanlele, who played the part of the newsreader in their piece, Alien Abduction, added: “It was a really nice experience.”

Max Weedon, also aged 10, said after the rehearsal: It seems scary the first time, but it’s not. It’s actually a lot of fun.”

Ethan Hamilton aged 10, from Year 5, added: “It was amazing. I really liked doing it and I’ve never been in a performance before.”

Hayden Williams, aged 10, said: This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to show our skills.”

Nicki Craven, Work Related Learning and Marketing Manager at Cowplain said: The atmosphere at the Kings was electric, especially for the finale with over 200 young people on stage. This event was an incredible opportunity for our students to work alongside industry professionals, to work backstage and run the sound and lighting desk for the evening.”

Nikki Thundercliffe, a parent from Padnell, commented on social media: “A fantastic evening of entertainment, thank you! All of the children were fantastic. My daughter from Padnell had a great day - what memories they've made! You should be very proud of your talented, confident students Cowplain.”

Kerry Winter, parent, said: “Brilliant night! ... lots of happy faces ... nice to see young adults enthusiastic about performing arts! Well done Cowplain.. my son from Padnell is exhausted but had a good day. All your hard work and planning paid off!”

Kara Palmer, whose son attends Denmead Junior School, added: “What an amazing evening! The enthusiasm and talents of TCS students and staff was infectious - the primary school children were buzzing. Fantastic performances - thank you!”