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Thursday 6th December, pupils from Dean Close Preparatory School deliver an outstanding performance of the challenging musical by Stiles and Drew, Honk! Based on the story of the Ugly Duckling this fun-filled, action packed production featured a singing bullfrog, a sly pussy cat, four very naughty ducklings and the very endearing Ugly Duckling.
Staged beautifully, with ingenious touches such as yellow umbrellas to represent duck eggs, bright yellow washing up gloves to mimic duck feet, a gale of leaves on the farmyard and falling feathers, the play followed the story of a little ‘duckling’ who is very different from his brothers and sisters. After being ridiculed for his appearance, Honk is lured away by a French feline who plans to enjoy eating him for supper. Honk quickly gets lost and the audience follow him on both a physical and emotional journey as he tries to find his way home.
The production highlights many issues children face today around bullying, being different, brand consumerism and the pressure from social media to be perfect in all areas of life. To explore these issues further the School dedicated an entire week to the theme of ‘Dare to be different’ after one of the songs in the play. On each day pupils were asked to consider concepts such as celebrating who you are, trying something different, being an individual and being the very best version of yourself you can be.
Throughout the week, each pupil was challenged to try something different and having done so, posted their achievements on a giant Honk poster which reaped a reward of a little yellow duck, which they personalised. In addition, the School’s atrium was transformed into a funfair full of crazy mirrors and peep boards where the children had fun distorting their appearance, but also considered concepts such as, ‘If I am trying to be you, who will be me?’, ‘Whilst I look different, am I still the same person?’In addition, Years 6, 7 and 8 received an inspirational talk from Mr John Willis, a lawyer and founder of the charity Power2 Inspire. John was born without fully formed arms or legs and has achieved a phenomenal amount despite his physical challenges. The children helped him demonstrate some sporting equipment that has been adapted for him and asked some excellent questions – such as how do you brush your teeth? And what do you find most challenging about everyday life?
Pupils also had the opportunity to see the difference Photoshop and make-up can make by seeing before and after images of celebrities. Finally, they could try some very unusual food at lunchtime. On the menu this week they have had Kangaroo sliders, devilled kidneys and clams vongole in black spaghetti, to name but a few.
Lynne Lawrence, Head of Drama commented, “What a week! I have seen the children try some extraordinary things over the last few days, but perhaps most extraordinary is how each and every child has performed in this very challenging play. Both the music and script is very complicated, synchronising the spoken word with the underscoring of the music is extremely tricky and to do this well requires a professional standard of timing – they were all brilliant!”Year 8 pupil, Lucy, said. “I loved being Honk. Whilst it wasn’t very nice when everyone was being unkind, I learnt a great deal about how important it is that we are all different and that everyone has something to offer. I also loved all the singing and working with my friend Niamh, who played my mum, she was brilliant.”
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