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Saturday, 23 June 2012

Twelve were chosen to feature in the drama piece that was performed at Fitzwilliam College:

FRANK RAMSEY - philosopher, economist, mathematician and polymath.

FRANCES CORNFORD - poet and Granddaughter of Charles Darwin

CHARLOTTE SCOTT - pioneer of women’s mathematics

JOHN HOULDSWORTH - a young racing driver killed at Brooklands

BRIDGET SPUFFORD - a sick child who gave her name to Bridget’s Hostel

CHARLES WOOD - composer of choral works and teacher

A.C. BENSON - diarist and writer of the lyrics of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’

SIR JOHN COCKCROFT - Nobel Prize-winning physicist, first to split the atom

IDA DARWIN - mental health campaigner

ALFRED MARSHALL - economist, known as the ‘father of modern economics’

LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN - world famous philosopher

JOHN COUCH ADAMS - mathematician and astronomer who discovered Neptune

After a guided visit to the burial ground led by historian Dr Mark Goldie of Churchill College, the young researchers went off to explore the lives of each person chosen.  Some of this work was done with the help of a team of undergraduates from Fitzwilliam College. The undergraduates were recruited by the college and six volunteers came forward. Once briefed, the

undergraduates gave the Chesterton students a tour of their college and talked to them about study and research techniques.

As a result of their researches, Mike Levy of Keystage Arts and Heritage wrote a play that featured a brief biography of each of the twelve chosen people buried at the Ascension graveyard. Once completed, Lesley Ford of Keystage Arts and Heritage assisted the drama department of the school to produce the play, ‘Giants Beneath our Feet’. Almost 40 students from the school were engaged in rehearsing and performing the play which was given a first performance at the Auditorium theatre which is part of Fitzwilliam College.

While the play was being rehearsed, another team got to work on the map and illustrated guide to the burial ground. This was published in time for the first performance and was ready for the outdoor presentation at the burial ground. Unfortunately, due to bad weather, two performances there had to be postponed but it is hoped that one will be given before the end of the school year. At that presentation, pupils from a nearby primary school will be given a tour of the burial ground by the Chesterton students.

The process of research and dramatization captured the imagination of the young people  taking part in the project. By playing out brief excerpts from the lives of each of the ‘giants’, they developed a close attachment to their story and the person buried at the site. They have in effect become experts in the stories of those buried at the Ascension ground and are keen to share their learning, and the excitement in discovering their local heritage, with others: their friends, parents, teachers and pupils from nearby primary schools.