“O she doth teach the torches to burn bright”

Hi, I’m Gala Baldacci, I’m 15 years old and I go to the North Halifax Grammar School. As part of my year 11 work experience I have been lucky enough to work with Chol Theatre on their ‘Our Biennale’ residency at the North Huddersfield Trust School to help with their production of Romeo and Juliet and to choreograph a dance piece. Both will be performed as part of the Our Biennale festival and will in some way express the Biennale’s theme of Darkness and Light. Chol team member, Jessica Woodhead, led both of these workshops to facilitate the students’ ideas and to help them produce two successful pieces, each with very different messages about the Biennale’s theme.

The dance workshop was very student focused, with the students receiving guidance from Jessica to help them come up with their own translation of the theme. It was incredibly interesting to see their use of levels and different styles of dance to interpret this theme, with different groups choreographing their own short pieces to be incorporated in the larger piece later on. The level of creativity and physical talent will ensure a high quality performance at the Biennale Finale on the 20th of November, a treat for their audience at Huddersfield Town Hall.

The second workshop I helped with was with the cast of an upcoming production of Romeo and Juliet as part of the Shakespeare Schools Festival and Our Biennale and it was really amazing to see the way the students collaborated with their teachers, Jessica and myself to share ideas on interpretation, set design and costume to get across the darkness and light theme. I was very excited when I found out that they had chosen Romeo and Juliet for their play, as in the last five years I have seen seven productions of it and it is my favourite Shakespeare text. I find the the themes of love vs. hate and chance vs. choice to be extremely paramount in today’s society and the way these talented and keen teenagers performed and responded to feedback during rehearsals showed just how much these themes still relate to teenagers today.

During the workshop I had the pleasure of taking a group to rehearse, where we discussed how to emphasise certain words in order to help the script be more understandable to a modern audience and worked on expressing the script through physical movement.The outcome in one hour was several well-rehearsed scenes in which the students got across their unique understanding of their character and the theme. It was, overall, an incredibly enriching experience for all involved and I can’t wait to see their performance on the 19th of November here at the Lawrence Batley Theatre, with extracts being performed at the Biennale Finale on the 20th of November at Huddersfield Town Hall.

A huge thank you to Chol for letting me take part in these wonderful projects, which are definitely educating and entertaining all of the contributing students, I hope to work more on such exciting opportunities with this fabulous company in the future.