Mulberry became a designated Specialist Arts College in September 2006, recognising the schools excellence in the Performing Arts and our commitment to developing the confidence and the capacity for personal expression of all our pupils.
By promoting creativity across our curriculum we help students engage fully in their learning and develop their skills in all aspects of communication: oral, written and technological. Through a variety of initiatives pupils are also encouraged to extend their ability to apply critical thinking skills, equipping them for the challenges of a fast changing world.
We have outstanding facilities including fully resourced Music rooms, a Music technology suite, Drama and performing spaces with full blackout, light and sound facilities, specialist Art facilities and a professional standard Dance studio. In addition we have fully equipped Media and Film facilities and a fully resourced suite of English rooms.
All pupils in year 10 are able to choose from a wide range of Arts options at GCSE level and are also able to specialise in arts subjects at post 16 levels. Pupils are encouraged to develop their own interests in chosen arts fields including the technical and business side of media, the arts and publishing.
The Mulberry & Bigland Green Centre, adjacent to the school, also houses a 150 seat theatre space which is in development as a professional small scale commercial venue. In addition to enabling in- house performances of professional quality and providing access to the work of touring companies, it also provides the opportunity for students to apprentice in areas of the arts industry such as technical theatre and event management.
Mulberry offers a wide variety of activities as part of our extensive out of school hours provision which includes clubs for drama, art, media, debate, journalism and public speaking. This also includes Saturday school and holiday activities.
Mulberry aims to signpost pathways and entry into arts careers via the production strands of Mulberry Theatre Company, Mulberry Films, Radio Mulberry and Mulberry Dance Company. These initiatives provide opportunities for students to gain skills, connection and experience at industry level through working to professional remits alongside a range of artists – in – residence and arts organisations. Current and recent partnerships include; Barbican, BBC, Bird’s Eye View Film Festival British Film Institute, Donmar Warehouse, Fiona Lloyd- Davies and Studio 9 Films, National Theatre, Postcode Films, Royal Court, Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company and Southbank Centre. The School Specialism department also enjoys a flourishing partnership with Goldsmiths University and students from their Ambassadors programme regularly support in arts lessons, sharing expertise and signposting pathways into arts courses at university.
Our specialist arts status reflects our belief in using arts to increase confidence and self esteem in all pupils and to raise achievement in all areas of school life. We have no doubt that young people with access to an excellent arts education will be better equipped to extend their creative thinking, enabling them to face and lead in the challenges of a fast changing world.
Mulberry is privileged to be able to work with some of the best artists and arts organisations in the creative sector. We welcome approaches from individuals and organisations who would like to explore ways in which we may be able to collaborate or would like to view our facilities.
Mulberry Theatre Company was launched in 2006 as a progressive initiative seeking to inspire and engage our whole school community through the practice of professional theatre. Founded upon the many arts projects, artists-in-residence and partnerships already embedded in the school, it aims to provide young women with opportunities to participate in the creation of performance work of the highest artistic quality.
Mulberry Theatre Company’s first play, Mehndi Night was developed to be toured as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2007. The play was the result of a long-term collaboration with playwright Fin Kennedy. It is the first of a trilogy of plays produced for the festival, the second being Stolen Secrets and then The Unravelling in 2009. The Unravelling received a Fringe First Award, the first ever to be given to a state secondary school.
For the next five years the company performed new work in the local community. This included a new play written by Fin Kennedy in conjunction with alumni students. The Urban Girl’s Guide to Camping was premiered at Southwark Playhouse in 2010 alongside a retrospective of the three other plays that Mulberry Theatre Company and Fin Kennedy had collaborated on so far. Coinciding with the premier of The Urban Girl’s Guide to Camping, Nick Hearne Publishing launched a book that anthologised the texts of the four plays created so far. The partnership with Fin continued to develop with two further projects including The Dream Collector, a collaboration with St Paul’s Way Trust School in 2013 and The Domino Effect which contained a focus on strong, stylised movement via integrating with Mulberry Dance Company.
Mulberry Theatre Company also piloted the Schoolwrights programme with Tamasha Theatre Company under Fin Kennedy who is its Associate Artistic Director. This project gives new writers the opportunity to be mentored by Fin, whilst working with small groups of students to develop new ten minute plays. The plays are then directed and performed to invited audiences at theatres such as Soho Theatre and RichMix. In 2014 the Schoolwrights programme was rolled out in three other schools after the writers received initial training at Mulberry.
Mulberry Theatre Company also runs an alumni group which brings together former students who have an interest in theatre–making and performing scripted or original work. Acollaboration has been established with the Royal Court Theatre which encourages participants to devise their own work under the facilitation of an associate director.
Other organisations that Mulberry Theatre Company have collaborated with include; Complicite, The Donmar Warehouse, The National Theatre and Southbank Centre as well as artists-in-residence such as Imogen Butle –Cole, Camille Cettina, Barbara Fuchs and Julia Voce .
Mulberry Theatre Company operates on an ethos of collaboration, learning and participation, and welcomes contact from arts organisations and individuals who are interested in working with us.
Mulberry School for Girls has run an in-house film production company, Mulberry Films, since 2007. The company aspires to develop innovative and participatory moving image media projects that create opportunities for extra-curricular learning, creative practice and professional development. Mulberry has a culture of screening the work they have produced, both in- house and as part of offsite projects and arts events.
The company work in a number of ways including running film/video making projects with both external and in house practitioners, building links into the film industry and fostering greater film and moving image literacy more broadly across the school, through critical and creative engagement. This is in addition to working closely with the Media Studies department to raise attainment in GCSE and A-level Media Studies.
Since its inception, Mulberry Films has produced films including ‘London Blitz’, ‘London Learners, London Lives’; a film made by students exploring diversity and identity in London schools and ‘Shout!’; a project where students learned the skills to make their own films based on personal expression, . The company helped the school in winning the Rolls Royce Science prize by supporting the students to make a film about stem cell research. This was shown at the Royal Albert Hall.
A major project for Mulberry Films was Justice in Action, a film documentary produced by Mulberry and Fiona Lloyd – Davies of Studio 9 Films. This involved six students from Mulberry travelling to Sarajevo and The Hague to create a film which explores the nature of justice and shares the stories of survivors of the Bosnian war. Justice in Action premiered in the UK at the Barbican on 26th September 2012 where it was Time Out Critics’ Choice. In June 2013 a group of Mulberry students took the film to the People’s Film Festival in Harlem, New York where it won Best International Documentary. The film was also selected for COMMFEST, a fringe event which is part of the Toronto International Film Festival and a group of students travelled there be presented with the ‘Making a Difference Award’.
Screenings are held at regular intervals throughout the year as part of the Mulberry Women’s Cinema Project. This community cinema exhibits and facilitates discussion of narrative features, documentaries and non-mainstream films by, about and for women. A female guest speaker, currently working in the cinema industry, is invited to each showing. The target audience is women of all ages from the local area. This project has included screenings at Genesis Cinema in Mile End and RichMix in Shoreditch as well as in the Mulberry & Bigland Green Centre.
Mulberry Films always welcomes hearing from individuals and organisations with a view to fostering partnership links. We would particularly like to hear from companies who have an interest in developing media projects that are inter-generational, build links with neighbouring schools and encourage participants to engage with their broader locality.
Mulberry Dance Company began as an extra-curricular programme for students who had already completed a qualification in Dance GCSE. It emerged in response to a number of students wishing to continue to develop and enjoy their practice of dance and who had not opted for a further formal qualification.
It started as a weekly two hour class on Friday evenings in conjunction with the Royal Academy of Dance’s Step into Dance programme. This enabled participants to continue to strengthen their technique while focusing and shaping their work towards performances both within the borough and further afield. Performances at prestigious venues such as Sadler’s Wells, Southbank Centre and the National Dance Teachers’ Association conference at The Royal Opera House followed. From this students were inspired to continue seeking to refine and develop their work.
Alongside the Step into Dance programme, Mulberry has a history of partnership work with dance companies, including Shobana Jeyasingh Dance and Green Candle. In July 2012, the school embarked on an ambitious project with Shobana Jeyasingh Dance, entitled Strata. This entailed a week-long residency of development and rehearsals at RichMix arts centre in order to create a site specific performance within the local area. The chosen location was a small public space called Arnold Circus in Bethnal Green, a place of significance in local history on which the piece was devised and performed. The intensive process gave students an insight into the world of a professional dancer. At this point, it felt that the time was right to formalise the extra curricular dance programmes that Mulberry were offering into a framework that could cultivate the school’s aspiration to provide dance training with an industry approach and Mulberry Dance Company (MDC) was established.
The company have a junior and senior division and meet weekly to choreograph pieces for both internal and external events. The company collaborated with Mulberry Theatre Company for 2014’s Edinburgh play The Domino Effect enabling the development of a highly physicalised style.
Mulberry Dance Company would love to hear from those who are interested in collaborative projects and partnerships with this new company who are at an exciting point in their development.
Mulberry Radio made its first transmission in 2008. Since then it has raised its profile by broadcasting a range of podcasts on a dedicated online site.
Groups of students have gained skills in recording and digital audio editing, learned successful techniques for interviewing and experimented with creative sound storytelling. Programmes produced have ranged from news bulletins to factual audio documents to oral history interviews with local residents.
In its first two years, Mulberry Radio made strong links with the BBC and students have had the experience of presenting alongside professional presenters on BBC London as part of their School Report’s National Schools’ Day Live. Students have also had their views aired on Radio 4’s Women’s Hour and BBC World News for Children. Partnerships and work experience placements with Resonance fm and Reprezent Young People’s Radio have enabled students to engage with the experience of a live radio studio. Some students have had the opportunity to engage with sound art by creating sonic environments with artist Duncan MacAffee from Whitechapel Art Gallery. Students have also had the chance to link audio and visual art through installation projects with freelance practitioner Jules Maxwell and as part of Mulberry’s Southwark Playhouse Festival.
You can hear some of Radio Mulberry’s podcasts at www.makewav.es/mulberry
Radio has become both a learning tool and a facilitator of self- expression at Mulberry and the school is keen to continue to explore its learning potential as part of the wider curriculum and beyond.