On Thursday 15th and Friday 16th June, Year 5 performed ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’, their play based around the events in Broadclyst, Exeter and Killerton in 1942. The story was based around the aftermath of the Exeter bombings, in which local school children were sent to Killerton to join those evacuees from elsewhere already schooled there. All pupils were involved in both performances and every pupil performed their main speaking role on at least one of the days, supporting their classmates on the other. In the weeks building up to the performance, everyone had been working hard learning their lines and rehearsing their final performances. Staff from school were also supported by Eileen Dillon from the National Trust throughout the rehearsal process and by a team of volunteer guides for the performances themselves.
Year 5 faced an additional challenge this year due to the works on the roof at Killerton house, so the whole performance was performed outdoors around the grounds between the visitor centre and the chapel, a challenge the children stepped up to admirably, with the Land Army girls having to deal with a herd of intrigued cattle edging closer and closer during one rehearsal! For the performances themselves, after an introduction from Charlie and Freya on the Thursday and Lexie and Harrison on the Friday, the audience was split into 4 groups who travelled around the different scene before following a 1920’s Rover up the hill to the chapel for the finale where they heard from the speakers who were travelling in the car to the chapel. At the bottom of the main drive there was a scene which contained the teachers of the schools evacuated to Killerton discussing what to do when the children from Exeter arrived, then the audience visited the Land Army by the pond, who both discussed and sang about their work. Next was a visit to the chapel to see the evacuated school children and their feelings around the impending arrivals from Exeter, before finally visiting the Home Guard who were investigating a possible ‘enemy’ object! Also along the way, the audience travelling between scenes were met by a pair of locals, a number of local children playing games and telling their story and a warning from the local ARP wardens.
Both performances were wholeheartedly enjoyed by the audience, staff and the performers themselves, who have now gained an in-depth understanding of life during World War 2 from a variety of aspects. During some of the rehearsals, some Year 5 pupils were lucky enough to meet walkers who were children during this time and listen to their experiences which were fascinating to hear. A number of lines were enjoyed by the pupils, along with many of the songs from the finale medley. Particular favourites included; ‘Do calm down Miller!’ and ‘We were sort of, kind of, actually on the roof last night when Exeter was being bombed.’