Leeds pupils aim for national theatre spotlight

Singer George Lloyd-Burman with other bandmates Robert Myers,Levante Macsay, and Luke Rushworth.
Singer George Lloyd-Burman with other bandmates Robert Myers,Levante Macsay, and Luke Rushworth.
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IT’ll be a play of giant proportions – but baby, it’s gonna be good!

Creative pupils from Ralph Thoresby High School in Holt Park, Leeds, are teaming up with Armley-based Interplay community theatre to work on Gargantua, the tale of a big baby on the loose and the havoc he causes.

The youngsters have written their own music for the show – inspired by French renaissance writer Francois Rabelais – and will record it with the help of young people from Interplay’s Tools for the Trade programme, in their own recording studio.

The unique theatre project will eventually be performed at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and could be featured at the National Theatre in London.

Drama and media teacher Frances Hill, who is directing the production, said: “As soon as I read Gargantua I knew it was the play for us. The premise of the story is brilliant and staging a play about a giant baby on the rampage sounded perfectly impossible and ridiculously challenging.

“We have spent the last few months doing workshops in order to explore the play and develop our own interpretation. It has been brilliant fun and really exciting to see the students take on the creative demands of the script.

“The music is integral to setting the mood and so the collaboration between these two groups is vital to the success of the show.”

The school’s band will perform live songs as part of the show, with all the music written and performed by the students.

Gargantua was written by award-winning playwright Carl Grose as part of the National Theatre’s Connections project, to creatively engage students who don’t normally get involved in extra-curricular activities.

It is a dark comedy about a giant baby, Hugh Mungus, who is on the loose in the fictional town of Skankton Marsh.

He terrorises the townsfolk and poses serious challenges for the country’s military and political forces – but all he really wants is feeding and changing.

The story is based loosely on the novel by Rabelais, with Grose influenced by films like Godzilla and Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

Gargantua will be performed on March 10 and 11 at the John Sowerby Community Theatre in Holt Park, before transferring to the West Yorkshire Playhouse on Saturday, May 14.

The Leeds group could eventually be selected to perform at a celebratory festival event at the National Theatre in London.

Tickets for Gargantua at the John Sowerby Community Centre are available on the door or from the school on 0113 336 8181.

For tickets for the performance at West Yorkshire Playhouse, call the box office on 0113 213 7700.

by aisha iqbal

Elijah Lawal, Google's communications manager for the UK and Ireland.

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