Sometimes in a School like Watson’s we have the chance to do something very special which pupils will always remember, to do something on a huge scale across the age-range of the School and which allows meaningful collaboration between departments. Our performances of Noye’s Fludde by Benjamin Britten on Wednesday 19 and Thursday 20 March was such an occasion.
In total almost 300 pupils took part telling the Old Testament story of Noah in an interesting, new and vibrant way.
The Art Department created 96 of the most fantastic masks with pupils in their Art lessons for the members of Caritas Choir who were to take the part of the animals who come into the ark 'two by two'; The School’s carpenter began work on creating an ark that would be able to be built in front of the audience, and the Drama Department staff and our pupil crews provided costumes, props, media, stage management, lighting and sound.
Meanwhile the Music Department taught the members of College Chorus, the Primary 5 and 6 'animals', the talented S6 singers who played Noah’s children and their wives, and the girls of Chamber Choir who were cast as Mrs Noye’s Gossips, the music that they had to sing.
A huge orchestra made up of the strings from Philharmonia, the Senior School Recorder Group, percussionists, trumpeters and bell ringers all had their separate rehearsals, and a small group of professional players was enlisted in line with Britten’s vision that amateurs and professional singers and instrumentalists should work side by side in the performance.
The unseen 'Voice of God' was spoken with great authority by a Junior School parent, and the solo dancing roles for two S3 pupils who portrayed the Raven and the Dove, beautifully choreographed one of our S6 pupils.
Sophie Buckingham brilliantly directed the whole performance.
To complete the performances the members of the audience were invited to join in the singing of three hymns, so achieving Britten’s aim of bringing lots of people together, both young and old, experienced and less-experienced in the making of music, to participate together in a huge and exciting project.