And away we go!
There we have it – first week of rehearsals of The Silver Sword completed! And what a whirlwind it has been. We have blocked and worked through scenes of almost half of the show, which is no mean feat when working with 11 year olds! We have had movement sessions complete with cartwheels and the ‘standard greek’. The company have taken up a violin, guitar, ukulele, harmonica, clarinet, piano, accordions and an all important euphonium. And WOW do they sound awesome together. We’ve learnt some European style songs, beautiful storytelling ballads and ‘Happy Birthday’ in Polish (STOLAT, if anyone is interested!). I have cried already and laughed until my sides were sore. I have had one or two (or maybe three or four..) £2 Magners from Wetherspoons (yes seriously £2 for a pint of cider. Praise be to Hackney Spoons!) and got to know the wonderful company. I have munched on quite a few HobNobs thanks to our lovely company manager and I have stressed out copiously about trying to find a 13 capacity house near Exeter (more on digs dilemmas later). All in all, a very successful week.
It’s been very interesting getting to grips with this piece. Set in Poland in WW2 it follows the story of 4 children fending for themselves as they travel across Europe to reunite themselves with their parents who were torn from them in the early years of the war. The Ian Serralier novel is lovely and I would definitely recommend it, especially for younger readers, but our director Suzie also gave us a copy of ‘We were Young and at War’ to peruse over the rehearsal period. The compilation of children’s diaries and letters (compiled by Sarah Wallis & Svetlana Palmer) from young adults affected by the war all over the world, is absolutely gripping. It’s honest and brutal and funny and moving and shocking. It has given me so much more to think about for Ruth’s story and journey and how children cope with war. It tells stories of remarkable courage and the tragic fight for survival. But what hit me most is the common link of humour between all of the entries. Each young person holds hope right until up the diaries end and they find laughter in the most mundane and trivial of things. This line from the diary of a young Polish boy, stuck with me the most:
“Humor can be found everywhere. Laughter in the midst of calamity.”
What a powerful message to come from the writing of a teenager. I am becoming every day more fascinated with the epic journey that Ruth and her family make throughout this fictional (but oh so very plausible!) story and can’t wait to keep discovering more.
Here’s to week 2!