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Musical Play in a Week - The Kenilworth Secret, 15-19 August 2016


The Kenilworth Secret - Musical Play in a Week
15-19 August 2016
The National Centre for Early Music

A highlight of the NCEM Learning and Participation programme is the annual Musical Play in a Week Summer School, which has been running since 2001. The Summer School provides opportunities for young people, aged 10-15, to collaborate with early music specialists and theatre professionals, to put on a historically-informed play combining acting, instrumental music and singing. Young people meet daily (10am-4pm) to develop and rehearse the production and the project culminates in a performance for family, friends and invited guests on the final evening.

This year's play, The Kenilworth Secret, was set in 1575 and told a tale of intrigue surrounding Queen Elizabeth I's visit to Kenilworth Castle. Written by the NCEM's Education Consultant, Cathryn Dew, the play is based on fact and contains a great deal of period-appropriate music, making the project informative as well as fun. 23 young people joined together in the cast of this production, coming from a variety of different backgrounds and levels of prior experience.

While there is a strong emphasis on enjoyment during the week, the core aim of the Summer School is to encourage creative learning, building young people's theatrical and musical skills and increasing their awareness of the discipline required to work in a performing arts setting. Participants experience at first hand the process of creating a production and the teamwork that is required to achieve this. Working intensively with their peers also helps the development of social and negotiating skills, necessary to achieve a common purpose.

Young people have said of the project:
"I've enjoyed learning the songs, especially ones in different languages"
"There is huge satisfaction being part of a team to make things work"
"It's been the best to play music especially being in the ensembles"
"The professionals who coach us are really lovely and support us to learn and get better"
"This Summer School is always way better than going on holiday!"

This year, the project welcomed back a former participant, this time attending in a voluntary assistant role. She has said: "It has helped me develop my organisational skills and has improved my patience when working with younger children. It has also encouraged my independence as I've had to think for myself, while still working as part of a team. I've really enjoyed it!"

The Summer School will return in 2017 with another thrilling tale, this time focusing on the mysterious life of Petrus Alamire - a remarkable man who led a double life as an illuminator of musical manuscripts and a secret agent for Henry VIII!

The Musical Play in a Week is generously supported by the Mayfield Valley Arts Trust and the Rotary Club of York Vikings.