Music and Drama were key parts of the curriculum at Ovingdean Hall School. The Foundation has funded a number of projects in this area:
Our work with Mousetrap began in 2014 when 65 deaf children from the London area attended a theatre day built around Matilda the Musical. The event, which was a collaboration between OHF and theatre education charity Mousetrap Theatre Projects, was supported by a series of play-writing workshops in school. The children saw their plays brought to life by professional actors at a showcase at London’s Leicester Square Theatre. ‘We’re the gods of comedy,’ said one student.
Our work with Mousetrap Theatre Projects has continued into 2016-2017. Last summer, children went to see productions of James and the Giant Peach or Gangsta Granny, and then took part in a series of drama and writing workshops back at school. They returned to the West End to see their plays, which included a detective mystery and a story about the power of friendship, being performed by a company of professional deaf and hearing actors. ‘It was inspiring,’ said Trustee Pauline Hughes.
During Summer 2017, we contributed toward the latest project. Over the course of six workshops and with the support of drama practitioners and playwright Andrew Muir, children from four primary schools prepared short plays which were then performed by a company of deaf and hearing actors. The plays, which were introduced by short films made by the children, brought to life imaginative characters including a time-travelling farmer with smelly feet, a hungry pirate in search of golden pasta, and a superhero with rainbow chicken pox.
During 2013/14, deaf children from the Bristol area took part in two percussion-based music workshops organised by Bristol Ensemble: Hearing Beethoven was based on the life and work of the deafened composer, while Reich On! was built around the music of Steve Reich. Over the course of the workshops, children used a variety of instruments, and composed and performed their own work. Their music was showcased at Bristol’s Colston Hall, an event attended by Dame Evelyn Glennie, a musician who is herself deaf. ‘Music enriches life,’ she said. ‘These children are proving that music is for the inclusion of everyone.’
‘It changes my feeling that music is really for hearing people,’ reported one student. ‘I know deaf people can do this.’ Another student added that, ‘The workshops made me feel excited and happy and LOUD.’
We have funded three year’s worth of music lessons at Hamilton Lodge School and College. ‘Thanks to the seed funding we received from OHF for a partnership with a local youth club to provide music lessons, music has become part of everyday life here,’ said Simon Burgess, Head of Development at the Brighton-based school for deaf children.