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Ancient Greece on Stage

This week we took our love of Greek Myths a step further.  Regular readers of my Blog will have read in May how we used the Greek Myths to great effect at the heart of our Great Read competition. The School Hall was transformed for the competition with entry through a Trojan Horse straight onto the beach where artifacts from The adventures of Perseus and the Voyages of  Odysseus lay scattered, quickly identified by our avid readers who loved the referential props and art work.

When it was time to choose a script for our summer production for Year 1 and 2, it was an obvious decision to opt for Perseus and Medusa- the musical!  Our children were already alight with interest for the Ancient Myths and to our joy rather than surprise, they seized on this opportunity to further indulge in the fascinating tale of Perseus.  They were keen to discuss fate and destiny and ponder on the interesting behaviour of the characters in this tale and to talk about why choices were made and whether a different approach might have brought greater happiness.

In the past I have alluded to the incredible ability of our young children to partake in Philosophy lessons with age as no barrier to open discussion.  In fact the lack of preconceptions about the world and the behaviour of humans is enlightening and encouraging and I wonder whether there should be a Minister for Children in the Government who is a actually a child who would therefore offer a fresh and natural ability to question and add clear thinking to balance some decisions potentially lacking intellect and wisdom.

In a nutshell, King Acrisius hears from a Fortune Teller that in the future he will be killed by his grandson Perseus who is a baby when the news is delivered.  To quote from the narrator; “King Acrisius thought hard.  How could Perseus kill him if Perseus was no more?”The King puts his daughter and baby grandson in a large chest and pushes them out to sea.  Instead of sinking and sorting his future out, the chest is washed up on a beach and so the tale continues and Perseus ends up, after many years away engaging in exciting adventures, visiting the Olympic Games at the foot of Mount Olympus.  Old King Acrisius is visiting to present the medals and by chance, the passing Perseus stops to take part in the discus competition.  With his final throw, a freak gust of wind takes the heavy, brass discus sailing back into the Royal Box where it knocks the old King to the ground having struck him on the head. Bad luck or destiny?  An interesting discussion.

I was fortunate enough to direct the play and again watched in awe at the patience of our young pupils.  Having directed adults before, I can confirm that changes from the director along the lines: “I know I said enter stage left with a soldier but now can you come on from stage right with a Goddess” would not be met by adults with genial acceptance and total compliance but would be challenged and treated with exasperation!  The children were a joy and as they immersed themselves in the story I was treated to some wonderful discussions with my tiny actors such as King Acrisius (aged 7) saying “As he throws the discus and everyone points to it flying across the stage, shall I stop and look at Perseus and frown as if I was saying ‘have I seen you somewhere before…?'”.

The show was a great success.  Do look at the photos on the Event of the Week page.  The children sang, acted and danced with enthusiasm and the audience were delighted.  One parent wrote in to say that she would not have imagined her 6 year old son would have been ready for The Greek Myths but having recognised the book at the library with glee, they had taken it home and shared the myths and more importantly shared the morals and subsequent discussions together as a family and she wrote in to thank St Christopher’s for inspiring this experience.

Annie Thackray