We’re now a week into the Festival and the fun shows no signs of slowing down yet. Au contraire! Yesterday’s jam-packed schedule featured the motivational Andy Cope travelling across town to share some pearls of wisdom on The Art of Being Brilliant, his trusty four-legged sidekick, Star the Spy Dog, in tow.
Andy’s first stop was the magnificent People’s History Museum. Before his talk, the audience were treated to two fantastic performances by pupils from the Lancasterian Specialist School for Communication and Interaction. The creative cast of forty children had been rehearsing for many months.
The first of their performances was a version of Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo, where they introduced a new character to the story called ‘Mr Pie-goo’. As well as chomping on gooey pies, Mr Pie-goo also wielded a gimeganormous axe, with which he threatened to chop down all the trees in the forest. Thankfully, along came The Gruffalo, a fierce and gruesome creature to behold, who scared away Mr Pie-goo and was hailed a hero.
Stevie, age 8, who played the rather fearsome Gruffalo, is no stranger to fame having appeared on CBeebies’ Mr Tumble. She said: “Do I look scary?! I scare off Mr Pie-goo!” Stevie was looking forward to lots of people coming to watch the performance, “…even mummies and daddies! My mummy and daddy are coming. I’m excited.”
The second group of budding actors from the Lancasterian School based their performance on adaptations of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes. The two poems they chose were Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf and The Three Little Pigs. One particular highlight of these sketches was the superbly cast Three Little Pigs, each perfectly suited to their roles.
Noel Fagan, a Manchester Metropolitan University MA Creative Writing graduate who’s been supporting literature and drama projects at the Lancasterian School since 2010, said: “We been doing writing activities with the Lancasterian for around the past four years now and last year we decided we’d have a go at scriptwriting. Rather than start with a blank sheet of paper, we tried to pick stories children already knew and developed them.
“They use different communication aids as well, which is important. Some children are able to talk and others use electronic talkers, which enable them to participate. Everyone’s got a role…I think there are a lot of assumptions about children with disabilities, that they can’t participate but they can. I do think more writers need to go into special needs schools, really.”
With such show-stopping performances from the Lancasterian School, Andy Cope had some tough acts to follow. But he’s not the kind of person to be put off by that kind of thing. Andy was in town to impart some wise words from his acclaimed title, The Art of Being Brilliant, which encourages both adults and children to think positively and strive for the best possible version of themselves at all times. “Every day of your life, you have a choice about the version of you you want to be”, Andy said.
According to Andy, only 2% of people actually achieve the dizzying heights of everyday brilliance. Lots of people choose to be ‘mood hoovers’ instead – so-called because they suck the life out of you! Andy encouraged the children in the audience to strive for happiness and fulfillment as soon as possible, because habits formed at an early age stick with you into grown-up-hood. Andy gave them some top tips for being happy, such as being thankful for every day you don’t have toothache. The audience were encouraged to join in and respond to Andy’s talk using their own examples. There were lots of prizes up for grabs for eager contributors.
William, age 11, was one of four lucky children to be awarded a copy of the Spy Dog for his enthusiastic participation in Andy’s talk. He said: “I thought [the talk] was really funny and it’s really inspired me to go out and do some of the things Andy suggested.”
The event was extremely well attended by nearly 200 pupils from schools across Greater Manchester, including Wentworth High School, All Saints Upton Primary, Bury & Whitefield Jewish Primary, Beech House School, Burnage Academy for Boys and Cheadle Hulme School. They were accompanied by many proud and enthralled teachers and parents.
After Andy’s talk, we all hurried over to Chorlton Library for his second performance of the day. Stay tuned to the blog for our roundup of what happened at his next destination!