When she was the PPF racial diversity rep last year, Mirabel (N) was asked by a Second Form pupil about her plans to observe Black History Month. While the month is a formalised celebration of Black culture and history, Mirabel decided to draw upon the diversity of the Oundle community to elicit a wide-ranging exploration in what became a production at the Stahl Theatre called Identity.*
Pupils from the First Form to the Upper Sixth Form stepped forward to celebrate, question, discuss and reveal their ideas about their own identity. With an introduction about Black History Month by Elijah (S), the programme was ably compered by Favour (N), and included dance, song, rap, stories and poetry. Projected images from historical events illustrated the evening’s themes.
The show opened with a blast of hip hop performed by a dance troupe and a dynamic solo by Faisal (StA).
Pupils from The Berrystead wrote and performed a skit about Ruby Bridges, a girl only a little younger than themselves, who was the first Black child to join a white segregated primary school in the American South.
Rory (B) infused humour into a sketch about British identity north of the border in Scotland. Marianne (N) also had a solo turn, performing an original composition, “My Own Name” on guitar, while Chido (N) presented Maya Angelou’s “Human Family”, a poem about how our differences unite us.
Beautiful duets were performed by Anne (N) and Nicole (W), who sang “Lift Me Up” by Rhianna, and Jess (D) and Pere (K), accompanied by Georgina (N) on piano, who performed “Don’t Watch Me Cry”. The spoken poem “Enough of What” examined notions of biracial identity, performed by Tess (W), Lauren (W) and Amelia (N).
Mrs Raudnitz’s exploration of identity merged a reckoning with aging and her embrace of her mother’s Baghdadi Jewish heritage. Joined by Mr Raudnitz on guitar and two of their sons, they performed “Call Me Al” by Paul Simon.
Mofe (K) had a triple bill, presenting a poem about the universal experiences of being Black and British, and a rap with Marianne about blackness and beauty by Enny. She joined Arielle (W) and Mirabel for the finale of “Stand Up”, a tribute to the fearless Harriet Tubman, written by Cynthia Erivo as “an expression of hope, strength and inspiration”.
A rousing Oundle ovation rounded off the evening.
Proceeds from the show will benefit the Kivuli Trust, which supports children with special needs in Kenya.
* With programme co-ordination and backstage work by India (N), Clare (N), Elijah (S), Hannah (N) and Georgina (N).