Two-day musical theatre workshop

Laura Berridge, founder and Artistic Director of Arts Insight (right) and Musical Director Fergal O'Mahony (left) with pupils from Castlewood Primary School
Laura Berridge, founder and Artistic Director of Arts Insight (right) and Musical Director Fergal O'Mahony (left) with pupils from Castlewood Primary School
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Arts Insight’s mission is to offer young pupils rare vocational experiences in the form of music, movement and drama workshops.

Using performing arts as a vehicle, we encourage teamwork, dedication, ambition and self-belief. By promoting a strong work ethic and desire to succeed, we equip children with essential skills for life.

On Tuesday 11th and Wednesday 12th February, Arts Insight worked with Castlewood Primary School, Castlewood Rd, Southwater, Nr Horsham, thanks to the charitable support of Raymond and Blanche Lawson Charitable Trust, Seary Charitable Trust, and Rathbones.

During our two-day workshops, 60 children are put through their paces by professional drama and music directors using the three main performing arts disciplines: singing, drama and dance, to create an original musical based on any one of our many themes, in this case, the Environment.

Each workshop is structured with a strong narrative and two originally composed songs.

Laura Berridge, founder and artistic director of Arts Insight, said: “Castlewood Primary School was chosen for us by West Sussex Music hub based on their knowledge of the school and who, they explained, are committed to providing a solid music and creative curriculum in conjunction with their core academic subjects.

“This is something the Head teacher Mrs Slocombe reiterated to us in person on day one.

“From the moment we entered the school every single member of staff we met, from the ladies on reception, to the teachers and teaching assistants, through to the head of the school, were all incredibly welcoming, encouraging and positive about the experience for their school.,” she continued.

The children gain and develop skills in confidence, communication and social interaction, whilst improving their knowledge of specific subjects, using performing arts as the vehicle to do this.

The performance takes place on the second day at 2:30pm in front of an audience made up of friends, family and the rest of the school community.

Laura continued: “The teaching assistants and teachers who were with us throughout were an integral part of the workshop and we are incredibly grateful for their support.

“It was not surprising therefore that this environment has led to a group of year four and five children who are cooperative, articulate, enthusiastic and, as we discovered when teaching the first song, very musical.

“I don’t like to make comparisons or benchmarks but on this occasion I have to make an exception. “

She added: “Castlewood has proved themselves to be the quickest school at picking up the songs and committing to every aspect of the piece from the tune and melody to the complicated harmonies, all whilst conveying the message and emotions of the pieces.

“By the end of the first morning the cast had already delivered to a performance ready standard: it was quite astonishing.”

Our workshops prove that when children are given a role to play they are able to act responsibly, be trustworthy, whilst communicating well and working together as a team. All of this is achieved while educating everyone involved on prevalent issues today such as Aspirations, the Environment and Healthy Lifestyles Choices.

Kirsty Anstee-Brown, support teacher at Castlewood Primary School, said: “We have noticed a huge boost in all our pupils’ confidence during the 2 day course, but there is one child in whom we’ve seen an enormous change.

“ This particular pupil has found some aspects of school challenging; social interaction with groups of peers and adults can be difficult.

“However, since embarking upon the Arts Insight workshop, they have been a different child: full of enthusiasm, passion and most importantly, they have had a permanent smile on their face, thoroughly enjoying every moment. Thank you.”

Pictured is Laura Berridge, founder and Artistic Director of Arts Insight on the right, and our Musical Director Fergal O’Mahony on the left, with pupils from Castlewood Primary School.

Report and picture contributed by Arts Insight.