Bradford College Tutors David Mayers and Maggie Power never fail to impress with the ingenuity of their creative minds – helping to develop the next in new generation talent, with their latest smash hit ‘Creative Heights’ production, involving school children from across the region.
The production took the children back to the days of the 1950s and Rock and Roll, when televisions were for the privileged few and people listened to music on records and radio.
Working in collaboration with the Heights cluster of schools, David Mayers and Maggie Power were commissioned by four schools in the Kirklees area to organise the biennial event. Over the summer term the children worked hard to put together a joint concert at the prestigious Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield, which went on to become a sell out performance.
Maggie explained: “The production was based in the 1950s, a truly ‘fabulous’ decade for Britain. For many, they had “never had it so good” although for the majority of the population, the journey from the outside loo to owning a refrigerator was much more arduous. However, contrary to the recording of people and events using black and white ‘snaps’, it was a vivid and colourful time, even when the sun shone through the coal-induced smog! The real seismic change though was cultural, particularly evident in the growing realisation that there was a transitional stage between childhood and adulthood, which should be celebrated through its own music.”
Elaborating further David said: “Our presentation aimed to chart that brief, but revolutionary, journey from the cosy security of ‘Bill and Ben’ and stamp collecting, to the awkward joy of teenage independence, accompanied by some of the best ‘pop’ music ever written.”
David continued: “Every aspect of our show has been inspired by the children who have, in turn, been inspired by the memories and anecdotes of members of their families, friends or neighbours, who remember these carefree days.”
“As our theme is Fabulous Fifties Fun, we initially encouraged the children to research into the background through a questionnaire which invited members of their families, friends or neighbours, who were themselves young people in this decade, for their memories and anecdotes.”
“Through that dialogue, the children began to learn not only about their family history, but also about the wider aspects of British cultural history, with all of the changes that followed World War Two - and the changes in youth culture, when the past type of music and film was overthrown by a very exciting and vibrant musical style called Rock and Roll.”
Maggie added: “From the children’s findings, we created a programme built around some of the popular songs of the period, exploring their context through dance and drama.”
Speaking about how the children have benefitted from being involved in the production, David said: “The children have benefitted enormously in several ways! The ethos of our Creative Arts Team is that students and children don’t just learn about the Arts – they learn through the Arts. Creative Heights has a rationale that the Arts are used, not just as something important in their own right, but also as a means of learning something broader and wider.”
“Through the experience the children were able to see their elderly relatives as children themselves. Through the songs, which were an integral part of the programme, the children learnt to sing and develop songs that their grandparents knew and sang and danced to themselves.”
“Being involved in the production also increased the children’s confidence enormously, with many now wanting to pursue careers in the Arts.”
David concluded: “The production was a soar away success, with an audience of over five hundred relative and friends flocking to the theatre to witness their children (and grandchildren) performing on stage with all the razzmatazz and trappings! The audience commented after the production about the high standard of professionalism that the show and children displayed - a first class performance in a first class theatre!”