Hairspray: a celebration of creativity and community

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Two days later I am still remembering scenes from our school’s recent production of Hairspray. I, along with the whole audience, thoroughly loved the show.

From start to finish we were entertained by a cast of 50, singing, dancing and acting with charisma and energy. Such was the positive force of this show that at the end the audience were literally dancing in the aisles.

There were many things that impressed me.

First it was a collective production. The Year 8s helped to design and produce many of the sets and props. The Music Department, including many of our visiting music teachers, played with such rhythm and soul that we were tapping our feet throughout the show. The acting and singing were superb and the Dance Department choreographed many splendid numbers. And not to forget back stage where the girls manned the sound and lighting deck to give the show real polish.

It was also collective in that we worked with many of the boys from Bedford School. We have really enjoyed and benefitted from our growing links with Bedford School and I look forward to seeing our girls act in The Crucible at Bedford School later in the term.

Secondly it dealt with an issue which is as relevant today as it was when it was first written – in-crowds and exclusion. The production dealt well with the idea that in our society many people are excluded from being allowed to belong because of their shape or colour.

In Hairspray the heroine challenges these stereotypes. She does not have the svelte model figure, but becomes the star of the television programme. She radiates inner self belief that inspires others to be proud. She brings together two segregated communities – blacks and whites through the power of music and dance. Tracy Turnblad is bold. She is an inspiring female role model and I was delighted that the production team were able to bring this character to life and share her story with our pupils and the wider audience.

The evening was pure joy: everyone left with a smile on their face, a tune in their ears and a message in their heart and mind about the importance of inclusion and the difference an individual can make to their community. I was very proud of what the girls and staff had achieved.

A time for collective celebration

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This term has passed by at an extraordinary speed; we are already into the last week of Christmas celebrations. The festivities have begun well with the Year 3 production of Babushka. A different take on the nativity story! It was delightful. The girls acted their parts with professional ease, responding effectively to each other’s characters, singing confidently and acting with such aplomb that I had to be reminded that they were only 7 or 8 years of age.

This excellence was quickly followed by the Year 7 – 9 production of Titanic. It was a devised piece of theatre which meant the girls researched the characters they played and told the story in their own words. Whilst the story is well known, the girls depicted it with sensitivity and maturity capturing the spirit of the early 1900s and ending the story beautifully with the delicate dancing of the Ice Maiden on the lost lives in the sea. Clever theatre, that was appreciated by all.

To follow this week we have the Christmas Concert, Junior and Senior Carol Services, Christmas lunch, Form parties and the Senior School pantomime – a creative and festive end to what has been a very full but thoroughly enjoyable term.

This time of year offers a wonderful opportunity for us to come together as a school and share a collective sense of celebration. This is vital to fostering our sense of community as we express our shared values and remember our true sense of purpose. The week’s activities present a condensed and intensified version of all that fills our daily school lives. It helps us to reflect upon the highlights of the term with pride, wonder at all we have crammed in and for some of us brings a certain sense of relief that the holiday is almost upon us!