Giving pupils’ poetry some extra Passion

WORKING HARD & Students from South Shields Community School under the direction of artist Kate Fox
WORKING HARD & Students from South Shields Community School under the direction of artist Kate Fox

POETIC pupils are waxing lyrical at a South Tyneside school ahead of a major borough broadcast for Easter.

The Great North Passion is a large-scale, community-inspired retelling of the Easter story, culminating in a live broadcast on BBC One on Good Friday from Bents Park in South Shields.

Performance poet Kate Fox worked with children at South Shields Community School on a poem that will feature in the seafront broadcast.

The poem was inspired by the story of Veronica, who handed her veil to Jesus, so that he could wipe his face as he carried the cross on the way to his crucifixion.

Kate Fox said: “We used this example of kindness to explore the theme more widely.

“I wanted the poem to mean something to the people of Shields, so there are references to the Great North Run, Minchella’s ice cream and Ocean Road.

“In our workshops, we worked with students from South Shields Community School and two primary schools, as well as people from the Holder House community. It was a great cross-section of people and ages.”

The Great North Passion is a collaboration between the BBC and The Cultural Spring, a three-year Arts Council scheme which is investing £2m in 10 council wards, including five in South Tyneside, where the arts may have been thin on the ground.

Rebecca Ball, project director of The Cultural Spring, said: “We’re delighted to be working with artists of Kate’s calibre and reputation.

“Anyone from South Shields, or who has a knowledge of the town, will recognise so much about it in her work, which describes South Tyneside and its people with real fondness and affection.”

Speaking about working with the borough’s pupils, Kate Fox added: “We’ve had some fun, but also worked hard at getting their views and opinions on our theme to help shape the poem.

“I’m working with a team of 13 pupils from South Shields Community School, who will help me perform live on Good Friday and we’re all excited by the prospect.”

Shipping containers will be transformed into representations of the biblical Stations of the Cross, before forming a giant cross during the Good Friday broadcast from Bents Park.

Twitter @terrykelly16