M6 Theatre Company Film Links Schools Across the Country
Usually at this time of year, Rochdale-based M6 Theatre would be getting ready to welcome hundreds of local school children for a performance and workshop as part of The Linking Network. The project sees two different schools join together for special lessons to promote equality and community. This year the company have had to do things a little differently…
Instead of a theatre production, When We Started Singing is a brand new BSL-interpreted film which will be available to thousands of KS2 pupils across the whole country. Classes taking part in Rochdale Schools Linking will also have the bonus of a special online workshop with Participatory Director Caroline Kennedy. The film and activity package will then be available to all Rochdale school children later in the year.
When We Started Singing began life as one of the winning entries in M6’s lockdown monologue writing competition. Written by Mike Peacock, it tells the story of Mr Popple (Declan Wilson), an elderly man whose acts of kindness bring his community together. The piece was then developed into a longer length film with a song and additional activities to support the recovery curriculum.
M6’s Artistic Director Gilly Baskeyfield said:
“For the past 3 years, we have been involved with the Rochdale Schools Linking project and we didn’t want this year to be any different. Our film and activity package provides a safe space for children to reflect on a shared lockdown experience, reconnect with each other and most importantly, make new friends. We feel so immensely proud of When We Started Singing. It’s a unifying short celebration of everything that matters – friendship, community, diversity ……and singing!”
M6 worked with film maker Nick Farrimond and a diverse group of professional artists and youth theatre members, playing the neighbours on Mr Popple’s street. The film is underscored by composer James Atherton, who has also written an ear worm of a song to bring the story to its joyous conclusion. The whole piece features BSL interpretation from Rebekah Mills Strawson, with a filmed tutorial enabling children to sign along with the song.
When We Started Singing premieres in schools on Monday 2 November.