Pupils’ words struck a chord

Maltings youth theatre bring action to words by Berwick Middle School following creative writing sessions with Author Ann Coburn and archavist Linda Bankier
Maltings youth theatre bring action to words by Berwick Middle School following creative writing sessions with Author Ann Coburn and archavist Linda Bankier

The creative pupils of Tweedmouth Middle must have felt incredibly proud last Thursday after their words were brought to life at The Maltings.

The 30 strong group of Year 7 children had been working since March on a First World War inspired project with Berwick author Ann Coburn and their pieces of work were given a voice thanks to the ever-impressive Maltings Youth Theatre.

The pupils’ work took them to Berwick archives office where Linda Bankier gave them the stories of three Berwick families who had been affected by the four year long conflict which started 100 years ago.

This set the ball rolling on how the children would feel if their fathers and brothers went to war and what they would say to them in a letter.

The results were both heart warming and heart wrenching in equal measure.

The Maltings Youth Theatre cast read letters to fathers on the front line which included tales of how the children they’d left behind had been excelling at school, played well in a football match, missed their walks on the beach or just missed them being there.

The pupils were also asked what they would send to their fathers if they were given a magic box and like the letters from home the things they came up with both raised a smile and tugged on the heart strings.

The playful nature of the youth theatre cast’s delivery added a real warmth to what was a sad time for their characters who were separated from their brave fathers a century ago.

The presents sent to the front line included a shirt signed by the Tottenham Hotspur team, football tickets, curry and chips, family photos, a school certificate of merit and pizza and the magic boxes the children could send the gifts in were made from everything from shooting stars to love.

The pupils also had the option on how they’d like the parcels to travel and this gave them the chance to do some really creative physical theatre, interpreting ideas for such as sending parcels on a cloud; in the care of a dalmatian dog and on a jet 2 aeroplane bound for Amsterdam.

What was so impressive about the short performance was just how much both the pupils and the young actors let their imaginations take over.

The children weren’t restricted in any way with their creative writing and the youth theatre were a fantastic mouthpiece for their ideas.

The Tweedmouth Middle youngsters had obviously got right to the heart of their subject and put themselves in the shoes of the children who spent most of the war wondering if their fathers would come back home safely and the youth theatre delivered their words with real poignancy.

The evening ended with a tear jerking reading from Ann herself who’d written a short play inspired by her time with the children.

The tale of Billy and his father who’d arrived home from war a shadow of his former self was a fitting end to a performance which was entertaining, engaging and thought provoking.

A massive well done to everyone involved.