Overcoming Spalding school rivalries through drama

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They come from the same primary schools and share similar interests and pastimes.

Yet historic rivalries dictate that many pupils from Spalding’s Gleed and High schools are divided.

Neon Youth Theatre prepare for their show. Photo: SG110613-119TW

Neon Youth Theatre prepare for their show. Photo: SG110613-119TW

In fact, what often divides them are stereotypical ideas of what the other school pupils stand for.

And when it comes to looking at the stereotypes, they are frequently comical, as members of a new youth theatre in town discovered.

Now those young actors are all set to share their discoveries in their debut performance at South Holland Centre.

Neon Youth Theatre will be performing The Terrible Tale of Nipper Towers from June 27 to 29 (7.30pm each night). Tickets are free and the idea is that some of the young people who go to watch the show might be persuaded to join the group when it starts again in September.

Neon is the youth section of Zest Theatre and is aimed at young people aged 11 to 25, although the Spalding group is made up of pupils in the 12 to 16 age group.

Director Dawn Richmond-Gordon says the group emerged from a summer holiday theatre project at South Holland Centre called Summer Challenge, which is happening again on August 12-15.

Dawn said: “We are one of very few youth theatre groups that write their own shows and so the kids have an input.

“When Neon started in Spalding I was overwhelmed by the energy in the room. They are so creative – they are absolutely amazing.”

Early on, the young people were asked for ideas that meant something to them to use as a basis for a play. Dawn says the main thing that came out was that they wanted to explore the school rivalry that existed in the town.

This was done first in a workshop, and Dawn says this highlighted that some of the reasons for the competition were “laughable”.

She said: “It was things like the fact that some pupils were taught languages, others weren’t, and that one was thought to be for clever kids and one was a posh school.

“It is ridiculous because all the kids from the two schools meet here and have the same experiences. Generally, they are similar and they all get on here, but there was a perceived gap.”

The cast went on to explore and make fun of those perceived differences in a non-specific way by setting their story in a haunted hotel called Nipper Towers where two rival schools find themselves trapped and have to work together to overcome the “terrors that await them”.

Neon meets in Spalding on Tuesdays during term time from 5.30pm to 7.30pm and costs £2.50 a week.