Over the last 18 months, Wiltshire Music Centre and Swindon-based theatre company Prime Theatre have developed a new musical theatre show for primary aged children exploring themes of identity, self-reflection and happiness. Featuring the central character of 10-year-old Maddie, the show, entitled “Don’t Pick Me, Miss!”, will have its debut public performance at WMC on Sunday 23rd February as part of the Spring Summer season.

Lead musician, Aga Serugo-Lugo and Prime Theatre’s Mark Powell (Artistic Director) began developing material last year in a series of creative sessions with percussionist Rosie Bergonzi and Emma Barr (Associate Director, Prime). Over 150 children, aged 8-11, contributed to the research and development stage of the project through creative arts workshops in Heytesbury, Horningsham, Corsham Broadwood and Pound Pill Primary Schools over the course of two weeks in June 2019.

Combining musical settings of poetry and engaging musical numbers with audience participation the final show tells the story of a young girl in Year 5 child, played by actor Lauren Sturgess. With a range of musical styles including reggae, classical waltz, musical theatre and even grime, the show will tackle some complex themes about growing up in an accessible and engaging way.

Prime Theatre’s Mark Powell explained:

‘In August we started to focus in on the changes in school lives that occur around Year 5…when you’re old enough to start knowing yourself but still a year away from the pressure of Year 6 and its looming SATs. At this point we also began inventing Maddie, a 10-year-old who’s had to move schools and home over summer because of her parents separating. Maddie is set a literacy task to write a poem about being happy which, as you can imagine, is hard when that’s not exactly how she feels at the moment.’

Cassie Tait, Head of Creative Learning & Community Engagement at Wiltshire Music Centre said of the project:

‘“Don’t Pick Me, Miss!’ has come together in a truly open and collaborative way, bouncing ideas off students, teachers, staff and our brilliant team of professionals.  Working with Prime Theatre has been so rewarding and we can’t wait to share the final show with audiences at WMC and in six schools across Wiltshire.’

The premiere will take place at Wiltshire Music Centre on Sunday 23rd February as part of the Centre’s Spring Summer season. Following this performance, the production will then tour to six primary schools in Wiltshire, who will all be able to enjoy its varied musical and narrative content, as well as the joy of seeing their devised scenes brought to life and become part of Maddie’s story.

The co-commissioned production and tour, which has been supported through grant funding from Wiltshire Music Connect (the music education hub for Wiltshire) forms part of the diverse Creative Learning Programme at WMC, delivered each year by core staff and external artists. Throughout 2018-19, WMC engaged nearly 11,000 participants in various projects from its monthly Zone Club, which provides creative workshops for learning disabled young adults, to its Celebrating Age Wiltshire programme which recently celebrated reaching 5,000 older people since the project began 3 years ago. WMC also runs the Wiltshire Youth Jazz Orchestra and West of England Youth Orchestra, which provides progression routes for young people into high-level large ensembles. WMC’s Creative Learning programme for 2019-20 is sponsored by AB Dynamics.

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