Since the last blog post, images of West Park Primary children, children's art work, parents and staff have been exhibited in two prominent buildings in our city centre: Light House and Wolverhampton Art Gallery. Last week's fabulous celebrations of Refugee Week at Light House included Year 2's brilliant self portraits and the puppets from the Refugee shadow puppetry scene with accompanying film from our West Park Welcome the World production.
Photographs by Vanley Burke of Year 5 and Year 6 children were exhibited in the Wolverhampton Art Gallery alongside photos he took of West Park pupils from 50 years ago. This was part of the Many Rivers to Cross exhibition, also featuring work by Anand Chhabra and Jagdish Patel.
It's great to see West Park Primary school's positive influence in (and on) other places in our city!
The audience expresses its thanks to the children for their strong and moving piece - a chance to hear from our MP and from 'strangers' how the play had affected them.
Since the performance, audience members have been sending in their feedback:
It was an absolutely fantastic production. It was authentic and did not shy away from the issue of racism. The children were absolute superstars; they pulled out all the stops and had people in the audience very emotional with some openly tearful. Hats off too to the headteacher who was brave enough to say yes. I was pleased I was able to take a small part and give back to a school that is as exceptional today as it was when I attended 50 years ago. Another seminal moment in the history of the school.
This was simply the best school production I have seen for a long time. I was impressed with the way you used old and new technology to convey the history of West Park School, how its history fits into that of the...
A packed house, the audience came from London, Leicestershire, Worcestershire, Shrophire...from far and wide, to see our play on Saturday 21st April! They laughed, they cried, they applauded spontaneously throughout, they gave a standing ovation at the end, led by MP Eleanor Smith...and the performers gave their best performance ever of West Park Welcomes The World!
The children of Year 5 and Year 6 plus 20 adult members of the community joined to create a truly memorable experience. The power of theatre was palpable as people's real stories were told by the community from which they stem with such integrity, understanding and skill. Congratulations to all who performed - you were superb!
Thank you West Park Primary School for valuing and investing in the arts in education, for generously opening your doors to strangers to come and witness who you are in this courageous way, and for your commitment to breaking dow...
Congratulations West Park Primary! Today we are the strapline on the front page of a national Sunday newspaper! In the 3-page special report, Michael Savage writes about the inspiration for our "extraordinary project examining the school's past" which turns the school into "a champion of the kind of integration Powell dismissed". The article includes a big photograph of our rehearsal (a different photo in the hard copy from the online version) and describes our school community and what we stand for - all very positive. It examines the legacy of Powell, integration over the last 50 years and racial prejudice today. Here's the link to the whole article:
On Wednesday 28th March, we did our first run-through of the play again since performing it on December 6th 2017. In the hall were not only Year 5, and Year 6, but also parents who will sing in the performance this time round, AND ex pupils from West Park Primary from 50 years ago! There were some familiar faces...Angela Spence and Mike Edwards, but also Riley Daley, Angela Verley, Pat Williams and Carmetta Davis, who feature in the archive film and photographs in our performance. Some of 'the Class of '68', as they have become known, have agreed to be a part of our performance on April 21st, and so we rehearsed them into the section of the performance about their time at the school for the first time. The atmosphere in the hall was electrifying as past and current pupils performed to, and alongside, each other.
West Park pupils 50 years apart from each other shared their school hall with ITV Central's Balvinder Sidhu and cameraman and a photographer from The Observ...
Year 5 and Year 6 had another fascinating visitor yesterday afternoon: Angela Spence, ex West Park pupil, aged 5 when the school opened in 1967. She features in some black and white archive footage, filmed in February 1968 outside the school gates. Familiar with this film and the captivating girl in it, the children greeted her as 'the girl with the umbrella'.
Angela talked to the children about her parents coming over from Jamaica before she was born, about growing up in multicultural Whitmore Reans with her brothers and sister, her lifelong interest in Education, her passion for travelling, and of course, about her memories of being at the school...and more. "What's your job?" asked Isaac. We learned that Angela currently wears several hats: she is a magistrate, the director of two businesses and a governor of the University of Wolverhampton.
The questions came thick and fast: "What impact did Enoch Powell's speech have on yo...
Years 5 and 6 were incredibly lucky to have two distinguished guests last week: Dr Shirin Hirsch from the University of Wolverhampton, and world-renowned photographer Vanley Burke, born in Jamaica and living in Birmingham since 1965, often described as the 'Godfather of Black British Photography'.
Shirin talked to the children about the controversial Conservative politician Enoch Powell (1912-1998), about whom she is currently writing a book. Powell was MP for Wolverhampton South West from 1950 to 1974 and features in a scene in our play. Speeches Enoch Powell made 50 years ago had a big impact on our school. We learnt more about Powell's influence from Shirin and also about the many people in Wolverhampton who rose up and spoke out against him, as well as those who supported him.
Vanley talked about his work as a photographer, not just in this country but all over the world, and about how he documents the lives and struggles of marginalised com...
We have been invited to join a group of people organising a Conference on April 21st, called Wolverhampton Welcomes the World: Many Rivers to Cross. The University of Wolverhampton, the Class of 68 (ex West Park students), a group of artists, and Stand Up to Racism want us to perform our play again as the opening event at this Conference. The event will be a celebration of solidarity, unity and multiculturalism. MP Eleanor Smith will attend the performance of West Park Welcomes the World! at school and lead a discussion afterwards about the themes the play raises, particularly those relating to racism and resistance, on the 50th anniversary of Enoch Powell's 'Rivers of Blood' speech. We are thrilled to get another opportunity to tell the school's important, positive story of true multiculturalism to a wider audience at this exciting community event. The Conference will then continue in the evening at the Heritage Centre, with a panel of speakers and then DJs....