From the novel by E.R. Braithwaite adapted for the stage by Ayub Khan Din
Education Resource Pack created by Jenny King and
TO SIR WITH LOVE: EDUCATION PACK
Ayub Khan Din – adaptor
E R Braithwaite – writer
Mark Babych – director
Mike Britton – designer
Model Box Images
Historical and Social Context 1948
Meet the Actors: Mykola Allen
Meet the Actors: Paul Kemp
Devising From Stimulus
Text Resource and activity
Review Writing: Evaluation of a Performance
For more images and resources go to: http://theatrecloud.com/to-sir-with-love
TO SIR WITH LOVE: EDUCATION PACK
There are interviews with the creative and production teams and accounts of rehearsal room practice to enable students to gain an insight into the process of developing the work from page to stage. The pack will be of interest to teachers and students of vocational performing arts, including BTEC National Diploma in Acting or Technical Theatre, AS/ A level Drama and Theatre, through to degree level Drama, Acting, Directing, Theatre Design and Music. The material in this pack may be reproduced for classroom use only and not for resale or reproduction in print or electronically without the prior permission of the authors.
About the play It is just after the Second World War and we are in a secondary school in the East End of London. We meet black Cambridge graduate and ex-RAF pilot Ricky, who moves to London after the war and faces prejudice at every turn. Unable to get a toehold in his chosen profession of engineering, he becomes a teacher in a school where, like him, the pupils have been marginalised and ignored. While some of the teachers believe in a tough approach, Ricky finds a better way and the support of a forward thinking headteacher. He has his allies and enemies among the other teachers, and the students will end up surprising him. This play has been written by Ayub Khan-Din, writer of East Is East. He has re-visited ER Braithwaite's autobiography to tell the story which was made famous in 1968 with a film starring Sidney Poitier.
Interview with Ayub Khan Din TO SIR WITH LOVE: EDUCATION PACK
playwright, adapter of To Sir With Love What drew you to want to adapt the piece? I think for me it was about reading the book and seeing what resonated. For me that was the discussion about education. Especially today, as everyone is so concerned about the way we’re educating our children, the style we’re using and how we’re all worrying about the schools we can get our children into.
in film. In many ways it’s a better storytelling device because you’re allowed to play around with words, you’re allowed to take your time and play around with characters and discover the situations.
Were there any particular challenges in adapting To Sir With Love?
Explaining the theories of education. To do that you have to go through a process of writing very large speeches. Once you’ve got what you want to say, The thing about To Sir With Love is that it talks about you have to start cutting the speeches down, but still a radical form of education. In this school they try to retaining the ideas. It’s difficult to write two people get children involved in the decision making of the arguing about education, the theories they are school and to have a say in the way they are talking about aren’t necessarily engaging for all. You educated. The school is given a responsibility to look need to find the drama in it and the action in it. beyond formal education and has a vision to send children out into wider society, fully able to What’s it like being in the rehearsal room participate in the decision making of that society. and seeing the actors with the text? That’s what fascinated me and made me excited about the book and the ideas that I wanted to put into the play. It’s fantastic! It’s exactly what a writer needs. You cant just go here’s a play, rehearse it, do it. It doesn’t work like that; it’s an organic process. I’ve been How do you start dramatising a novel working on it for a year; I’ve delivered three drafts. into a play? People make comments on those drafts and it changes. Then in the rehearsal room actors are It’s about listening to emotions of the piece, listening working on it and mouthing the words and your to the characters. Obviously in this piece you start hearing the structure of sentences and scenes and with Rick, he’s our main protagonist. Then you start what might have been right in my head suddenly thinking who’s going to be playing against him, isn’t right anymore and I have to start changing who’s going to be playing with him. You look at the things. other characters and think about where the story is. So it’s Rick, the classroom, the people he’s working with, the headmaster especially. He’s the one who is Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? advocating the style of education, so there will be friction between him and Rick due to Rick’s inexperience and their theories of education rubbing Sit down and write. You don’t need a computer. You against each other. Automatically you’re beginning to need a pen and a piece of paper and an idea. build dramatic action and you work through the play like that.
Does writing for theatre limit you in any way? I don’t think it gives you any limitations at all. Because it’s theatre you can tell stories. In film you’re being told to show all the time “show me, show me, don’t tell me”. In theatre you need to be able to tell, so if you want a character to express themselves you can give them a long speech. Theatre isn’t a naturalistic form – it’s heightened naturalism – you can get away with a lot more than
Ayub Khan Din
TO SIR WITH LOVE: EDUCATION PACK
Interview with E.R.Braithwaite writer of the novel To Sir With Love What inspired you to write To Sir With Love?
What do you think is the relevance of your book for today's young people?
It was the label on the packet of the gift I received from the students. It was simple, comprehensive, spontaneous, yet it said everything they wanted to say.
When some young people read my book they sometimes totally miss the point. They find no relevance to their lives. They seem to think that their birth ushered in a new experience of living. They cannot readily accept that nearly everything has in some form or another happened before. Can we accept the prevailing paradox that there is nothing new under the sun?
What are the biggest lessons you learnt as a teacher at St. George's School? To pay careful attention to anything the children said in the classroom, whether it was said for my attention or not.
What do you think is the relevance of your book for today's teachers? Any teacher reading my book may find an occasional instance or two when a light goes on.
What advice would you give to 15 year olds living today? No advice. 15 year olds generally do not welcome advice, gratuitously sprinkled on them. If a 15 year old needs specific advice, I hope he/ she will be fortunate enough to be able to turn to someone whose guidance they will accept. E.R. Braithwaite Guyana. 2013
E.R. Braithwaite was born in Guyana (at that time British Guiana) in 1920. He studied in New York and served as a fighter pilot (1941-45) in the RAF. After the war he received an advanced degree in Physics from Cambridge University. Prevented from pursuing his chosen career in engineering, because of the colour of his skin, he finally took a job as teacher in a tough London secondary school. To Sir With Love is his best known novel, based on that experience. When he left teaching, in addition to being a writer, he was a social worker and in the 1960s became a diplomat and was Guyanese Ambassador to the United Nations. In 2012 he received the Cacique Crown of Honour, from the President of Guyana.
“It sold very well in England because they rushed to a second printing because of the demand. For a long time I had the feeling that it was not real; for a while I would wake up and find I was dreaming. The newspapers
Further Reading: Caryl Philips, The Guardian. http:// www.theguardian.com/books/2005/jul/23/
were calling me for interviews. And
featuresreviews.guardianreview20 Guyanese news online:http:// www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2012/08/26/to-sir-with-love-
own…it seemed to teach all the right
the book seemed to have a life of its points to people who had an interest in the lives of young people.” E.R. Braithwaite.
TO SIR WITH LOVE: EDUCATION PACK
Interview with Mark Babych Director
How did you get into directing? I did a Drama and Theatre Studies degree at the University of Kent at Canterbury and in my first year was asked to direct a production of Epsom Downs by Howard Brenton — I'd never considered directing as a career until then and even after that I was still more interested in performing; it wasn't until the final year of my degree when I specialised in directing as a subject that I discovered that I really wanted to pursue it as a career; I was very inspired by the work of Peter Brook and the Market Theatre of Johannesburg and a lot of my early work was really influenced by the work of these amazing people; I spent a lot of time developing and broadening my practice by working in a variety of roles in arts centres and regional theatres — I spent time in schools, colleges, working on small scale touring and community theatre projects and gradually moved into working with professional actors when I got my first Associate Director job at Worcester Swan Theatre. I spent several years as a freelance director working with a broad range of companies from regional producing theatres to small scale touring and got the chance to work in Europe and Estonia which further broadened my experience and skills until I got my first Artistic Director job at the Octagon Theatre Bolton, where I spent ten really rewarding and fulfilling years.
What qualities do you think someone needs in order to be a good director? The best directors I know are incredibly creative, imaginative, resourceful, tenacious, intelligent and are really good with people — they have a deep passion and respect for the skill and craft of the people they work with — actors, designers, composers, choreographers, etc — they are really good at assembling and building a brilliant team and enabling that team to do the very best work that they can. It's the director that sets the tone and bar and the conditions in which creativity can thrive and flourish — sometimes this means quietening your own voice so that others can be heard and harnessed but also knowing when to fight for something that you passionately believe in and holds onto the integrity of the piece you are working on.
What are the differences between running your own theatre as you did at Bolton Octagon and working with a
producer and another producing theatre? The main difference is that my sole responsibility is to this production and delivering for the people I am employed by, the very best work that I can within the resources available. As an artistic director of a theatre you are responsible for the artistic direction of travel for the entire organisation, developing and setting policy, and the job extends way beyond the rehearsal room and direction of plays — my current role as Artistic Director of Hull Truck includes a complete review of policy and practice, working with the board and staff to deliver a cultural organisation that truly connects with the city and the communities we serve, and developing partnerships with other artists and organisations on a local, regional and national level.
What is the difference between directing for TV which you have done ('Coronation Street') and directing for theatre. I'd say the main difference is time — the theatre process is a lot slower and time is given through the rehearsal period to develop staging and interpretation and deepen everyone's understanding of the psychology of the world you are trying to create and inhabit — there's a lot of room for trial and error and for improvising round an idea — in tv time is much shorter, particularly soap, where there is virtually no rehearsal — the director would work out where the actors would be in relation to where he/she wants to place the cameras and have already worked out where the broad moves of the scene would be prior to the actors getting there which means the degree of collaboration is considerably lessened — there is a large team of people working on a soap all of whom require you to be really clear about how a scene works from lighting, to camera, to sound, to props, to make-up and the turnaround for scenes is incredibly quick, often shooting up to 30 + pages of script a day.
What is it about TO SIR WITH LOVE that interests you and how did you develop a 'concept' for how to stage it? I was interested in the central characters journey in the story — how he arrives at the school with a certain set of pre-conceptions and prejudices and
Interview with Mark Babych ...continued emerges at the end with a different view of the young people he works with and himself — there is also a contemporary relevance in the story about how we educate our young people and the role that creativity and culture plays in our society. The staging concept really came out of the need to keep the action active and fluid without the need for cumbersome scene changes which meant a certain simplicity in the way scenes are located and set up by our on-stage ensemble
What are the key stages in taking a script from first draft to final dress rehearsal on stage? Once I've read the first draft there is some discussion amongst the director and producers to gather initial responses to how the story is revealing itself through the choices the writer is initially making. I would then collate these in my mind and then work closely with the writer to tease out the next path towards the next draft. Because Ayub and I have worked together before this process is relatively straight forward as I think we were completely in tune with what needed to be developed, what the strengths were and what could be adapted and simplified; in this case the task was to condense the characters for the number of actors available and flesh out the character of Florian the headmaster. Once in rehearsal we'll take another look at how what's on the page is working in action and things will be revealed to us throughout the process that Ayub will want to respond to and adapt, so it really is a living and breathing organism that will grow as we work and fine tune — this might include changes of location and adapting lines to trimming certain section. There then comes the transition from the rehearsal room to the stage, which is always an exciting moment because then the choices you have made in a small room then have to stand up in a large auditorium, and we keep on refining. The process doesn't stop there because the one element we have never had up until the opening night is the audience, and they will tell us far more than anything if what we have dreamt up connects and has meaning and intelligence.
What advice would you give to anyone who is interested in pursuing directing as a profession?
and stops you resting on your laurels. Be interested in actors and other artists who you will form close working relationships with — it is they that will translate ideas into reality and a good understanding of what makes them tick and an appreciation of the skill and craft that goes into their area of specialism will make you a better director. Be well read — know what's been before and what is emerging and current. If you can, do some training at an established and respected course — there are many available now but look at who the alumni are — who's been on the course who is now making a successful career for themselves. Put high quality productions on where you can — be it in a pub/bar/shop/theatre anywhere you can demonstrate your commitment and creativity. Get to know the professional theatre makers in your orbit and make yourself interested and known to them — after a while, if you show initiative and talent, they will take notice. Be persistent!
Mark Babych in rehearsal for To Sir With Love
See as much theatre as you can — be diverse and adventurous in your choices and don't just stick to one particular palette — learn as much as you can and keep on absorbing and learning — this is a life long task and part of what makes this job exciting
Interview with Mike Britton TO SIR WITH LOVE: EDUCATION PACK
Designer Tell us about the value of design training On leaving school I first did a general art foundation course for one year at Falmouth School Of Art. I then went to Wimbledon School Of Art and did a degree in Theatre Design for three years. I think the training is necessary as it’s probably the only time you will get to experiment and try out different aspects of design. It’s when you really start to develop your style and your thoughts on how to approach a piece of theatre, without the pressure of actually having to stage it. It lasts a short time and you need to work very hard to get the most out of it. It’s also having time to mature as a person, as I think you need the chance to have some life experience before you can even begin to think about designing something like King Lear for example.
What qualities do you think you need to be a great theatre designer Thats tricky! I believe a great design is not necessarily one that is very showy and superficially great to look at. In fact it may be one that you may not instantly be aware of. The theatre designer’s job is done if you have managed to help the audience completely connect and, in some way, be moved by the drama. It’s the ability to take an internal emotion and portray it in three dimensions. What makes it very hard is that there are no hard and fast rules about to how to do this: anything is possible. It works when everything falls into place, the play, the actor, what the actor is wearing, what surrounds them from set, light and sound. A good designer needs to be a bit like a sponge and absorb all types of visual reference and influences. You need to be able to think sideways. A lot of what we do is down to practical problem solving, as well keeping your eye on the grander scheme and what you are trying to achieve visually.
See the photos of Mike’s model box for ‘To Sir With Love’ on page 10
Can you explain your thinking and the process behind the design for To Sir With Love? The design process simply starts with reading the play. With the first reading, I look at it just as a story, trying not to consider the design at all. From this I would hope to get a good feel of the play and how the story has affected me. I will then reread and make notes and start considering the general themes and mood and what I need to try and portray with the design. From this come some initial sketches and visual references. It is usually at this point I meet the director and we discuss the play in depth. These first thoughts and discussions are very important as they usually form the grounding of everything we will go on to do. I’m a great believer in an initial gut reaction to something, which will go on to inform the design. The design is then developed through rough models, drawings and discussion, which are presented in the form of a final model and technical drawings for the set, with sketches or references for the costumes. For 'To Sir With love' it reads like a film script with lots of shorter scenes (fourteen in the first half alone), going from staff room to classroom to a few external scenes on the bus and at the V&A Museum. The biggest challenge is to keep the action moving and to not get bogged down with constant scene changes, so illustrating each scene in a naturalistic manner was quite clearly not an option. The key for me is the energy of the kids in the play. It is they who we felt would be able to drive the story forward. The general context of the play is important; these kids exist in post war East End London in poor and deprived circumstances. So I looked at lots of photos of blitzed London and the fallout of World War II, which all of them had lived through and from these I came up with a general surround to hold the play. This is a landscape of a bombed skyline and broken windows which shows little hope of recovery and it is through this the kids improve themselves and develop. The general landscape is then blurred into the context of the school, the blackboards used as a physical illustration of learning.
TO SIR WITH LOVE: EDUCATION PACK
...design interview continued
How much research did you do into the historical period for To Sir With Love? The more experience you have, the more familiar you become with different time periods. I have worked on productions before set in the 1940's, but research is still important, especially with a play which is a piece of our social history. I get as much background as possible from photographic and written references, and from film and artists of the time. Itâ€™s important to create something that fits the mood of the piece; you are not making a documentary. But to deconstruct a period you need to know what it is supposed to look like to start with.
Can you outline the stages of development from the Model box to the final Design on stage? Once you have a finished design and itâ€™s been costed so that it works within the available budget, you will have a meeting with the workshop who will be constructing the set. This may be one or more companies depending on the size of the project. With 'To Sir With Love' this is principally the in-house workshop at the producing theatre, Northampton, but some elements are being built with another commercial company. As well as discussing the look and requirements of the set you will also speak to the painter, who will usually do samples of all the different paint techniques and textures within the scenery. Once building has started there will be one or two points where you will visit the workshop to see the build in progress. This is so you can make sure it is how you imagined it would be and if necessary any changes are made at this stage. From the workshop the set will then be fitted up on stage ready for the technical rehearsal period, which is when everything is put together for the first time, actors, light, sound and design.
How many people are involved in make your design a reality on stage? and what do they do? What is the role of the lighting designer? This completely depends on the size of the project as can fluctuate from just a handful of people up to hundreds. With 'To Sir With Love' on the set side of things there is the production manager, who has the overall responsibility of realising the production, the workshop of three or four carpenters (which is quite small), plus one or two painters. You will then have the stage management team who run rehearsals and will be responsible for sourcing all the props for the production, alongside managing the production on stage. The wardrobe supervisor will coordinate the making, hiring or buying of costume. In the theatre you will then have the stage crew who will put up the scenery as well as the lighting and sound departments. Lighting designers are incredibly important to set and costume designers as their work can enhance yours tremendously or in equal amounts destroy it. So there should always be good communication between you, to make sure you are all working towards the same goal.
To Sir With Love is a touring production, to what extent does this effect the design? There are obviously lots of practical considerations when a production needs to tour to different theatres, from the time it takes to put up and take down the set and to how it is transported, as well as physically being able to fit into all the different sized venues it may go to. When considering the initial design it is important to be aware of the smallest theatre the production is going to so that the general footprint of the set will work there, either as it is or with a simple modification.
Follow up Activities Research the period and setting of To Sir With Love (see Synopsis) and create a mood board of colours, textures and images.
Research the highlighted theatre production roles above and create a chart which summarises the role each one plays in putting on a show.
TO SIR WITH LOVE: EDUCATION PACK
The Model Box The whole classroom is laid out against the backdrop of bombed out buildings The natural wooden flooring and sloping desks are typical of the post-war period.
Type to enter text
The entire set, including scenery, is created in miniature to show the creative and production teams how the design will look when it is fully realised.
Changes in location can be demonstrated by different pieces of furniture without the need for complex scene changes
TO SIR WITH LOVE: EDUCATION PACK
Historical and Social Context Life in London 1948
“I suppose I had entertained some naively romantic ideas about London’s East End, with its cosmopolitan population and fascinating history. ….. I had dreamed of walking along the cobbled Street of the Cable Makers to the echoes of Chancellor and the brothers Willoughby. I wanted to look on the reach of the Thames at Blackwall from which Captain John Smith had sailed aboard the good ship Susan Lawrence to found an English colony in Virginia. I had dreamed …. But this was different. …..untidy irregular picket fence of slipshod shopfronts and gaping bomb sites. ….. There was rubble everywhere, and dirt and flies. And there were smells …. They flowed from the delicatessen shop with its uncovered trays of pickled herrings, and the small open casks of pickled gherkins and onions, dried fish and salted meat, and sweaty damp walls and floor; from the fish shop which casually defied every law of health …… “ E R Braithwaite ‘To Sir with Love’ Events - London’s first ever supermarket opens - London Olympics at Wembley - The ship the Empire Windrush arrives at Tilbury with 500 Jamaicans who have answered the invitation to come and work in Britain.
Living Conditions - rationing - bomb sites - communities and families still recovering from the dislocation of wartime
TO SIR WITH LOVE: EDUCATION PACK
On Racism FROM the book ‘TO SIR WITH LOVE’ ……. Braithwaite: “I had just been brought face to face with something I had either forgotten or completely ignored for more than six exciting years – my black skin. It had not mattered when I volunteered for aircrew service in 1940, it had not mattered during the period of flying training or when I received my wings and was posted to a squadron; it had not mattered in the hectic uncertaintites of operational flying, of living and loving from day to day, brothered to men who like myself had no tomorrow and could not afford to fritter away today on the absurdities of prejudice …”
I had grown up British in every way. …. As a boy I was taught to appreciate English literature, poetry and prose, classical and contemporary, and it was absolutely natural for me to identify myself with the British heroes of the adventure stories …. “Belief in an idea dies hard. I had believed in an ideal for all the twenty-eight years of my life – the idea of the British Way of Life. It had sustained me when as a youth in a high school of nearly all white students I had had to work harder or run faster than they needed to do in order to make the grade. ….. I came to England for post-graduate study in 1939, I felt that at long last I was personally identified with the hub of fairness, tolerance and all the freedoms. It was therefore without any hesitation that I volunteered for service with the Royal Air Force in 1940, willing and ready to lay down my life for the preservation of the ideal which had been my lodestar … …. The West Indian colonials … who lived, worked, and reared their children through the rigours of slavery and the growing pains of gradual enfranchisement, according to the only example they knew – the British Way. …. The ties which bind them to Britain are strong, and this is very apparent on each occasion of a Royal visit, when all of them, young and old, rich and poor join happily together in unrestrained and joyful demonstrations of welcome. Yes, it is wonderful to be British – until one comes to Britain” “Who can predict the end result of a land-lady’s coldness, a waiter’s discourtesy, or the refusal of a young woman to dance?”
Meet the Actors TO SIR WITH LOVE: EDUCATION PACK
Mykola Allen playing Denham What’s the biggest challenge of this job? Developing a character and learning how to approach their character journey. This must be achieved whilst working with other members of the company who's roles dictate certain actions that can hinder your progressive journey or 'arc'.
What’s the thing you love most about this job? The ability to create an entirely new world. We are given the opportunity to be put in places and circumstances we wouldn't normally go to or be involved in. It gives you an appreciation for other walks of life and the struggles people can face day to day.
Can you describe a day in the life of being an actor in rehearsal? Get up: Have a decent breakfast to give myself enough energy for the upcoming day. Read the scenes that I will be rehearsing that day to consolidate my knowledge and recap on any notes given to me on a previous day. Am: Warm-up in the rehearsal room (both physical and vocal - this is crucial to the work we will be doing in the day). Generally recap on previous notes and usually discuss the agenda for the day. Lunch: Dependent on the stage in the rehearsal period we may do a run of a particular act. Transitions between scenes need to be cemented in your mind way in advance of the shows (they are surprisingly hard to get to grips with). After the run you'll often be given notes on how to improve the next time you perform; this includes the opportunity for you to speak up about any issues or difficulties you are having. Pm: This time can be used for all manner of different things. Quite often this can be another run through or even a stagger through of specific scenes. On particular days, such as on this tour, we will have a dance or fight call. This is vital as these are the only times we can correctly rehearse certain sections, scenes with only dialogue can be rehearsed without direct supervision. Evening: Recap on the events of the day to consolidate the notes you've been given and to make sure you can take them on board. Read the scenes necessary for the next rehearsal day too so that you are fully on top of the next days actions. Make sure you have some time to relax though! Go to bed: Make sure you get a good night’s sleep as rehearsals often begin very early in the morning and can potentially finish very late at night. Read your script again.
Was there any person, or anything you did, in school or when you were younger, which influenced what you do now? The support of my family was the most important factor in how I got to where I am today. The assurance that they will support you in whatever you do really is encouraging in any walk of life. My family come from an entertainment background, so this would always have been somewhere in their minds anyway. Acting always has come naturally for me, it seemed the obvious choice!
Can you briefly describe what training you had for your job? Being too young to have attended drama school, I have attended acting classes every week since the age of 7. I currently attend Derby Academy of Acting, an acting class aimed to teach advanced acting techniques. This sort of regular involvement in the arts is crucial to developing the fundamental skills needed.
What advice would you give a young person wanting to work in theatre? Work hard. Train hard. Play hard (literally).
TO SIR WITH LOVE: EDUCATION PACK
Meet the Actors Paul Kemp playing Weston, Maths teacher at Green Slade School. What’s the biggest challenge of this job and being an actor in general? The character is rather rude and bigoted, but also quite funny. So it’s important to strike a balance so that audiences can laugh at him rather than find him totally obnoxious. The hardest thing about being an actor is finding work. What’s the thing you love most about this job? I really enjoy playing my character and it’s very exciting to be involved in a brand new play that has never been seen before. I love being an actor because every job presents new challenges and brings you into contact with new people. Can you describe a day in the life of an actor in rehearsal? Get up: Breakfast. Look at lines. Am: Rehearse. Lunch: Just a snack and a chat with fellow cast members. Pm: Rehearse. Evening: Rehearse sometimes / meet with cast / evening meal / more line learning. Go to bed: Hopefully at a reasonable time if rehearsing first thing in the morning. Was there any person, or anything you did, in school or when you were younger, which influenced what you do now? I had an English teacher at secondary school who introduced me to acting by starting classes outside school hours. I ended up acting in several productions that he directed which were performed in the school. Can you briefly describe what training you had for your job? I studied drama for two years after I had been to university. What advice would you give a young person wanting to work in theatre? It’s hard, so make sure it is absolutely what you want to do. You need a burning desire to do it in order to cope with all the job insecurity and disappointments that will inevitably accompany all the enjoyable aspects. What is the feeling you hope audiences will leave the theatre with after watching To Sir with Love? Primarily, I hope they will be delighted and entertained by this story. For some people it may also provoke some interesting discussions related to the themes of the play.
TO SIR WITH LOVE: EDUCATION PACK
Devising From Stimulus Read the song lyrics below. They were created for the 1968 film of To Sir With Love by Don Black. he is writing about love, but it’s not romantic love or sexual love, it’s about how we love the people who have helped us because they believe in us.
Those schoolgirl days, of telling tales and biting nails are gone, But in my mind, I know they will still live on and on, But how do you thank someone, who has taken you from crayons to perfume? It isn't easy, but I'll try, If you wanted the sky I would write across the sky in letters, That would soar a thousand feet high, To Sir, with Love The time has come, For closing books and long last looks must end, And as I leave, I know that I am leaving my best friend, A friend who taught me right from wrong, And weak from strong, That's a lot to learn, What, what can I give you in return? If you wanted the moon I would try to make a start, But I, would rather you let me give my heart, To Sir, with Love
Group Devising Task Create Character A - use a large piece of flip chart paper and draw a stick figure on it,. This person is the ideal teacher, or youth worker, or youth theatre leader. Write all the qualities that this person would have around the stick figure. Across the middle of the figure, write all the feelings that person has (which they don’t necessarily express.) Create a second stick figure on another piece of paper: Character B. This person will block Character A from doing their job. Give this person attributes and feelings too. Create Character C - the voice of the song lyrics above: who is she? Who are her friends? Decide what situation Character A is in: the classroom, the staff room, the car-park, and create a scene, including a range of other people of your choice. Character B enters the scene and somehow blocks A from doing their job. Improvise the scene and see what story emerges.
Text Activity TO SIR WITH LOVE: EDUCATION PACK
Drama or English: KS3
1. Read the speech
MR. FLORIAN What Iâ€™m trying to do here, is to create an atmosphere, where young people can feel safe, wanted and secure. Free to work, play and express themselves. For a few hours of their day, they will be guided by adults who will listen to them. Who care about their opinions, who try to understand without condemnation. I want to make sure we exploit whatever abilities they have to the full. 2. What do you notice about the way Florian speaks? Do you get the impression that these thoughts are new to him or that he has delivered the speech before? What techniques does he use to make his speech persuasive? 3. Either in a group or individually, list the elements of your perfect school.
4. Now turn that list into a speech which will win over an audience. Think of the elements you will need to include.
5. Perform your speech and the class should decide which school sounds like the one they would want to go to.
Follow Up Activity Interview your parents/carers or grandparents about their schooldays. What type of school did they go to and how is it different from your school? Ask them about uniforms and rules and the type of subjects they learned. Write a letter from a school pupil in the time of either your parent/carers or grandparents to a person in another country, describing what you like or donâ€™t like about your school.
After the Show Discuss whether you would like to have gone to Green Slade School and if you think Mr Florian was right in his methods.
TO SIR WITH LOVE: EDUCATION PACK
Text Resource Drama: KS4 or KS5
WESTON. I suppose the old Man gave you all the old blather about these poor deprived angels? CLINTY Ignore him. (She holds out her hand.) CLINTY I’m Vivienne Clintridge, art and drama. Welcome aboard. It’s not too bad here. They might yell but they don’t bite. That’s pretty good odds in my book. And regardless of anything else you might hear- Weston!- The old Man knows exactly what he’s doing. WESTON. You’ll be sharing P.E. duties with me, he did tell you that? There’s no negotiation. RICK WellWESTON No, there’s no crying off. I saw your lot doing track and field in the Olympics. So I know you can run, jump and chuck things about! RICK I was about to say,I’ll look forward to it. Beat WESTON Oh, will you now. CLINTY How wonderful to have a new man about the place. (WESTON gives her a dismissive look and starts to light his pipe.) WESTON Careful, Clinty your psyche is showing. CLINTY Always does when I’m close to a real man, Weston. Been in the country long? GILLIAN Clinty! CLINTY Only asking. Nothing wrong in a bit of background. Put this extract on its feet by working out what the physical relationship is between the actors. What clues are there in the text about what they are doing? Where are they? How close are they? Does that change? Think about the subtext. Freeze the scene and speak the thoughts of each character. Then play the scene again with those thoughts emphasised or reduced (you can try a scale of one to ten as to how far you ‘play’ the subtext). Present it to the group to get feedback on how believable, or uncomfortable, you can make it.
TO SIR WITH LOVE: EDUCATION PACK
Review Writing: Evaluation of a Performance Linked to GCSE Drama and Edexcel AS level
First Impressions What impression do you get entering the space? What size is it? How close are the audience to the action?
Language What kind of vocabulary is being used? Is it simple or complex? Natural or artificial? Do any words or phrases stay with you? How much language belongs to another period of history?
Non-Verbal Communication Think about the history, or backstory, of the characters, the underlying prejudices and power relations, how does this affect how they move in the space in relation to one another? What gestures do they use at different stages in the play and how do they change?
Voice Listen for changes in tone and pitch. How does strong emotion change the tone or pitch of the actors’ voices? What level of vocal projection is needed in the venue?
Visual/Aural/Spatial Refer to the resources on design How do the actors relate to the set and what could be imagined to be beyond it? How do the props, furniture and set dressing create a sense of the space in which the story unfolds? What impression do the colours of the set and costumes give you? What impression do the textures of the set give you? What do you hear? Are you aware of the sound or does it act on your subconscious? What lighting effects are being used and what impression do they give? How do the visual and aural and spatial elements work together to communicate the themes and emotional effect of the piece?
Interpretation All the elements above are brought together by the director, Mark Babych, in his interpretation of the writer’s text. After seeing the show, do you feel he has been successful?
Further Study Watch the 1968 film of To Sir With Love. Ayub Khan Din has returned to Braithwaite’s original autobiography in his re-telling of the story, what are the main differences and similarities between the film and the book?