On Wednesday 18th April the English department led an educational visit to the Swansea Grand theatre for a live performance of the key GCSE text ‘Of Mice and Men’, written by John Steinbeck. We took 163 pupils from years 8, 9 and 10 and it was a fantastic experience of live stage theatre for them. Their behaviour, without exception, was superb, and they represented Brynteg in the wider community extremely positively. One theatre staff member approached me at the end to praise our pupils’ behaviour, saying that with the sheer numbers we took, they were a credit to us. The pupils will have taken a lot out of the experience and it will certainly help them in their study of the novel in their English classes. Here are some reviews of the performance by some of our pupils. Mr V Gibson

 

Review 1:

On Wednesday 18th April a large number of pupils from year 9 and year 8 travelled to Swansea to watch Selladoor’s production of John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’ in The Swansea Grand Theatre at 11:00.

The performance started with music and soon the two main characters entered the stage. These were George Milton played by Richard Keightley and Lennie Small played by Mathew Wynn who trained at The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff. The story begins with the two travellers who arrive in a piece of deserted land en route to the ranch where they were heading the next day to find work. They settled down and we were introduced to the characters, their characteristics and the relationship between the two men. Having never read the book or event read anything about the story before watching the production I went into the theatre blind as to what would happen, so all would be new. I do now feel though that having the first time experience and seeing it happen live on stage in front of me will help with my GCSE course next year, when I have to read and it should help me visualise it.

After the first scene ended and we discovered Lennie’s love of small soft things such as mice we were effortlessly transported to the ranch with a superb set change guided with more of Mark Aspinall’s music, who is now the Musical Director of the UK Tour of the Take That musical The Band. 3 sets of long grass were pushed off, the lighting effect of using lights behind the set backdrop really helped and with bunk beds being pushed out and parts of the backdrop’s set being pulled out, the stage was alive and the captivated audience were transported to a Californian ranch. I must add here that the workers who were also on stage during this change along with the machinery sound of the music reminded me a little bit of Les Misérables .

When we were in the ranch we were introduced to more of the characters, all with their different quirks including Candy played by Andrew Boyer who we learn is very affectionate towards his beloved old dog, that he says he had since he was a pup.   The Boss, played by Robert Ashe also enters in this scene and shows his seniority and kindness towards the two new workers George and Lennie. As the play progresses Candy joins George and Lennie in their dream to buy a cottage they once saw and make it their home and create a farm and Lennie can look after rabbits all after an unexpected dispute by two workers in the ranch.

Curley who is the boss’s son played by Kamran Darabi-Ford could be described by me as a sly and mischievous character only caring about himself and wanting to be the best of the best also arrives and seemed keen to cause disruption with anyone who might step one foot out of line so when his Wife played by Rosemary Boyle enters the scene all of the men seem almost horrible towards her as they don’t want Candy seeing that they have been near her and get in to fight. However the second act dramatically closed with just that.

After the interval, the second act opened with Crooks in the barn and Lennie joins him. George and his new friends had gone into town and when they arrived back   they then all leave rather soon. The next day in the play Candy’s wife announces her departure to only Lennie who is sat on his own worrying about how he just killed a mouse and what George might think. Lennie, who is a complex character is played very well throughout the play and from very quickly into the show you forget that actors are playing it and it was a real life story unfolding in front of eyes. This goes for most of the cast as well who also all had very good American accents and clothing, again helping to make it even more convincing! Back to the play, this encounter between the two of them does not end smoothly and yet again another twist occurs and then gives Lennie even more to contemplate and worry about making him flee the scene.

Candy and George then just so happen to be out for a stroll and walk past the scene of which Lennie fled and are most shocked to see what happens so then call the other ranch workers including Curley who is mortified and angry and orders guns to be found and they hunt for Lennie as he expected he was the suspect. All of this was very, very fact paced and kept you alert and wanting to know what happened next.

The final scene then takes place back where the first scene takes place and you clearly see the relationship between George and Lennie unfold in front of you before a dramatic end which probably very hard for the actors to do but nonetheless executed it well.

A strong round of applause then echoed around the walls of The Swansea Grand Theatre once the performance came to end. All of the pupils who attended the trip would like to thank Mr Gibson for organising the trip to see the production so it will hopefully help with our GCSE English exam on ‘Of Mice and Men’ next year!

Written by: J Elliott

Review 2:

On Wednesday 18th April, we visited Swansea Grand Theatre to watch the production of John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’. The theatre production was a great representation of the book, the characters’ personalities were accurate and the idea of Lennie Small being a handful was certainly portrayed.

The story on the ranch was a definite insight to life in the 1930’s in America as the characters go from place to place earning little or no money with no job security. George, who looks after Lennie knows that his friend would not cope on his own, however he sticks by him even though he could just go out and get drunk wasting the little money earned. In my opinion it was very enjoyable and the fight scene between Lennie and Curley was intense.

Overall it was a great experience and after watching the play it should help us in year 10 when we study the novel for our English Literature GCSE.

Written by: R Dearman

Review 3:

On Wednesday 18th of April, year 9 had the pleasure of witnessing an incredible performance of ‘Of Mice and Men’. This was a great experience that gave us a good insight into what we will be studying next year, for our English Literature GCSE. The performance was held in the Swansea Grand theatre.

‘Of Mice and Men’ is one of the most iconic stories in American Literature. It is set in America in the 1930’s, during the Great Depression, and highlights, in a thrilling way, how powerful friendship can be. This is shown in the special bond between the characters named George and Lennie, portrayed by two outstanding actors.

The content of the story had many different themes and moral meanings, which can be interpreted in different ways. This is what makes ‘Of Mice and Men’ so interesting as people have different views on the captivating storyline. This opens up opportunity for discussion, and therefore enhances our learning ready for GCSE.

We thought that the production was excellent, because the story line was extraordinary and unpredictable, which kept us engaged and excited to see the next scene. After consulting with other pupils, we have come to the conclusion that year 9 thoroughly enjoyed this memorable experience and will use it to help them next year during GCSE.

Written by: G Fredericks and W Hughes