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 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Watermill - Call to the Sky

16th to 19th July 2003.

This is from the NWN.

Vital, fresh and full of invention

West Berkshire Federation of Village Schools: Call To The Sky, at The Watermill Theatre, from Wednesday, July 16 to Saturday, July 19

Ade Morris' Call To The Sky is an uplifting, enchanting tale. Its theme is communication as a force for understanding and peace across communities and racial divides - challenging material for the 100 pupils from the West Berkshire Federation of Village schools who grasped these issues with confidence and performed with enthusiasm.

This is the fourth arts and drama collaboration between the Watermill and the schools, which is quite an achievement.

Artist Julieann Worrall Hood had worked with the schools to create stained glass panels depicting the six strands of this captivating play which were on display in the foyer. This theme was continued in the effective set design by Libby Watson.

The story is told through two children, Frankie and Millie, who have dreams that transport us through time.

Stockcross pupils were splendid as the children who settled down under the gigantic stage cloth, forced to go to bed by their parents, and a lovely touch was the light-pull falling from the ceiling in the middle of the audience and the plea for someone to "turn the light off". An audience member obliged.

They are visited by aliens from outer-space who challenge them to a quest in order to save the world.

Shaw-cum-Donnington pupils were the Saxons and Danes with hilarious audience participation involving the well-known lagers Skol and Heineken but with a serious message of tolerance.

Newbury's canal life and the prejudices that the town had to gypsies were powerfully enacted by Shefford School emphasising the importance of truthfulness.

The Battle of Newbury was the domain of Inkpen School superbly re-enacted through teddy bears being thrown back and forward from the audience to the cast, an inspirational moment of theatre.

Welford and Wickham pupils sensitively presented the conflict over the construction of the Newbury bypass and Enborne school took us to the life and times of Dick Turpin with some excellent individual performances.

Will Wollen's inventive direction had a freshness and vitality that was spot on. So has the planet survived? Have the aliens given us a reprieve? Thanks to these youngsters there is hope and we will be in safe hands.