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During the last week of the Easter holidays a group of students from years 10 – 12, along with Ms Matthews and Mrs Dunford from the English Department, made the journey across to Arvon’s residential centre in Shropshire. Surrounded by beautiful and remote countryside they then spent six days exploring different styles and genres of writing, inspired and encouraged by their tutors – novelist Stephen May and poet Catherine Smith. They took them through a variety of exercises almost as gruelling as D of E (but with less Geography); crafting a powerful dramatic monologue, setting free their imaginations with magic realism, and exercising the eight points of the narrative arc. They were also joined by TV screenwriter Claire Bennett, who shared her experiences on the realities of writing drama for a living.
As well as the morning workshops, the tutors gave advice and encouragement to all of the students in individual tutorials, working closely with the pieces they had created. Another highlight was kitchen duty, as every night a different team had a lot of fun catering for the rest of the group. In a finish almost as nail-biting as Twickenham’s, Centre Director Natasha Carlish crowned Trent ‘best ever school for kitchen efficiency’ – always good to have another string to one’s bow!
Fin Willits, overall winner of the PSA Creative Writing prize, commented; ‘I have really enjoyed the experience. Also, who knew a week without Wi-Fi would be so much fun?!’ Emma Kok, winner of the Sixth Form prize, added; ‘I wasn’t expecting it to be as amazing as it was. Wish I could go back!’
A fantastic week was brought to an unforgettable end with a final celebration and reading of the groups best pieces, along with most students coming together to perform part of Mo’s screenplay ‘Run’. It was the perfect end to a great experience.
Ms Matthews would like to take the opportunity to thank all of the students for their outstanding contributions and tireless love of song, to Mrs Dunford for her ruthless kitchen regime and beautiful verse, and to the PSA for their generous sponsorship and continued support of the course.