Oakham Celebrates the WoW Factor
As part of our ongoing campaign to inspire a love of reading and words in our pupils, one event – or series of events – that stands out from November 2016 was
'The Week of the Word’; seven days that saw us celebrate the power and effect of language in our lives. Planned and hosted by Celia Shephard of the English Department, this year’s cross-curricular festival followed on from Megan Fairley’s vibrant ‘Fear and Fantasy Week’ held in 2015.
‘The Week of the Word’ brought leading poets, playwrights and performers to Oakham School, to take part in a packed programme of talks, workshops and activities, large and small. Drawing its inspiration from the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize for Literature and Luke Wright’s work at the Latitude Festival, the WoW sought to celebrate the wow factor of words in all subjects, from literature to Maths, and from Business to Art.
The week had many highlights. Tom Bird, the Executive Producer at Shakespeare’s Globe spoke to a rapt audience about taking Hamlet on tour to every country in the world. Alex Bellos in his talk ‘Reading Numbers’ brought a fresh slant to language and Mathematics and Hannah Lowe combined social history and poetry in her enthralling and deeply personal reading in the Wilson Auditorium.
Perhaps one of the greatest joys of the week was to be found in its accessibility and scale: Emma Wright spoke to a small keen group about publishing entrepreneurship; Ben Brown fascinated a similarly enthusiastic crowd, considering Politics, History and Drama; John Woodman caused all to pause and reflect with his words on interdisciplinary and international collaboration. Frances Leviston dedicated her whole day to working with class groups, reading, writing, crafting thoughts and words. Her impact was precise and provoking to our children. Isobel Colchester brought a different scale of perspective, speaking about Business and the Arts from her position as Chief Executive of Poet in the City. For the Middle School, perhaps the most memorable point will have been the final day’s performances from Luke Wright, who held the entirety of Forms 4 and 5 in the palm of his poetic hand, entertaining them with humorous, accessible, and poignant poetry. No one present will ever forget the joy that was ‘Fat Josh’.
The week ended on a truly inclusive and joyous note in an evening of performance poetry and original poems by pupils and colleagues, including a poem read in Mandarin by Cong Fan and a poem read in Russian by Ilya Durnetsov.