summer school

Moral messages are the order of the day

In August 2016, 27 kids participated in Blast “SuperHeroes Revolution” and 39 in Boom! “The Existential Caterpillar”. It was a summer filled with creativity with a mix of Phoenix Students and kids new to the world of Phoenix.  Two entertaining shows were created by a wonderful group of people, making Blast!’s 18th birthday a year to remember! Both shows had important moral messages. Blast! had the message and slogan “#youhavethepowertochangethings” whilst Boom! had “Be yourself. Not who you think you should be”. These messages were essential to the shows and the spirit of the weeks of creation.






On the first day of Blast 2016, every participant had to pitch an original Super Hero character with the aim to find the four strongest characters to lead the major plot elements in  the show. This led to some amazing offers including Potato Man, Chorizo Fire and The Answer. With the aim to provide origin stories for the four leading heroes the cast set about devising in their groups, assisted by Katie Barker-Dale, who also provided choreography, former students Rhiannon Jenkins and Drew Gregg as well as Phil Dale, Phoenix Director and Founder. Conor O’Sullivan provided film and visual elements for the show and Adam Amor created the music, with the catchy Electrobeat drum number being an engaging aspect of the performance.

One of the most significant aspects of SuperHeroes Revolution was the guerilla theatre plan of taking 27 superheroes out into the streets of Stortford to spread the word of the catch phrase #youhavethepowertochangethings. This was an incredible experience with loads of random people getting involved from all different generations. Despite being asked to leave the Stortford Shopping Centre (Whoops! Too much fun being had!), the outdoor experience was fun, with lots of the community actively getting involved.

The show ended up being a hilarious culmination of music, dance, devised scenes and film, really capturing was makes “Blast!” Blast! It was a show that oozed fun and brought a group of people together to create something special. Special commendation must go to Phoenix Student Josh Copsey for being the 3rd recipient of the annual Chiara Sanfilippo Memorial Award for being an excellent participant and bringing lots to the entire week. Well done Josh!

Click here to see the Vlogs of the creation of Blast!

Boom! 2016 told the story of The Existential Caterpillar, an original story written by Phil Dale about a caterpillar searching for the meaning of life. The show was a funny and heartwarming culmination of joy, with the kids playing different characters that The Existential Caterpillar meets across her journey. The week consisted of a mix of fun drama games and a focused attitude to put together the show on the Friday night.

The week was led by Katie Barker-Dale, assisted by Connor Linden, who provided arranged cover songs for the show as well as the original finale song “Be Yourself”. Ex-student Rhiannon Jenkins and current students Ollie Stacey, Joe Llewelyn, Eve Leng and Matthew Goodeve  helped during the week to help bring the show to life. Ollie and Joe created some simple and yet stylish costumes that really brought something to the show! Conor O’Sullivan provided the film and visual effects for Boom! and this gave the kids the opportunity to work on video and with a greenscreen.

The message “Be yourself. Not who you think you should be” gave the performance a heart and soul and we are very proud of all the kids who worked hard create a 45 minute show in 5 days.

Click here to see the Vlogs of the creation of Boom!

Both Blast! and Boom! have been extremely enjoyable and we cannot wait to see what next year will bring!

To see photos of the productions, click below!



July 21, 2016


by phoenixdrew

in Blast Summer School

It’s time for Revolution!

Blast! returns this summer with a BANG, WHAM and KA-POW as the much anticiapted SuperHero theme finally gets the green light. Following in the footsteps of the movie themed 2012 Zombie Apocalypse Blast (pictured left), this year promises to be enormous fun as we take inspiration from the hugely popular Marvel Film series and create our own alternate reality. In a (not too distant?) dystopian future the Illuminati have taken over, forcing the general public to do their bidding and a group of new superheroes must stand together to take down the system. SuperHeroes Revolution will feature the classic ingredients to a Superhero story: battles, outfits and origin stories!

Founder and director of Phoenix Theatre Arts Phil Dale heads the week long project and will be ably assisted by choreographer Katie Barker-Dale, the two of them leading performance and dance respectively. They will be joined by newcomers Adam Amor and Keeley Thurley. Professional saxophonist and rhythmic percussion specialist Adam (pictured right) will bring an exciting new dimension to the proceedings, as will new PYT tutor Keeley. Green screen video sequences will be overseen by our very own AV man Conor O’Sullivan.

Phil is planning on SuperHeroes Revolution being the perfect mix of structure and madness, with the ambition to add aspects of guerilla theatre performed in the streets. “One of my favourite ever Blast moments comes from Saving Tinkerbell in 2013 when we filmed Peter Pan (pictured left) begging on the streets of Bishops Stortford” explained Phil. “I’m fascinated by the idea of filmed street theatre – it is a whole new style of performance that we can have a whole load of fun with.”

With just over 3 weeks until the project launches on Sunday 14th August there are plenty of spaces available for anyone aged 11 and above who’d like to spend 7 days of their summer break doing something completely out of the ordinary – and admit it – we all have a superhero lurking somewhere inside of us!

Click here for more information and to book online now

A Great Way to Spend a Week in August

August 2015 saw two of our most successful summer school projects ever take place at Rhodes. Blast, the summer school for older aged students (11 to 18) took place between Sunday 16th and Saturday 22nd August. Forty participants spent the week under the creative direction of course leader Jeanne Stacey, who was assisted by Phoenix regulars Duncan Rutherford and Katie Barker-Dale. In a move away from previous years the entire final production was devised by those involved and told the story of a plane crash and what became of the survivors on a small tropical Island. The final show ‘GONE’ played to a packed crowd of friends and family of all those who took part. After the performance the technical team took to the stage to present their, now traditional, show piece song and dance routine. Before the cast received their certificates, William Edden was awarded The Chiara Sanfilippo Memorial Award for his outstanding work at Blast over the past several years. The Award is given annually in memory of 13-year-old Chiara who died in a car accident just a few weeks after attending Blast in 2013.

The following week saw the emergence of Boom, our newly named Primary summer school, which took place between Monday 24th and Friday 28th September. Thirty-Seven primary aged children worked tirelessly throughout five fun packed days to create a musical performance entitled Jamie, the story of a young girl who wants to be a hero. The week was led by Phoenix dance tutor and Panto choreographer Katie Barker-Dale and Primary tutor Connor Linden. They were assisted by senior students William Edden and Kali Dronsfield. The final performance was a huge success and left more than a few parents in both tears of joy and laughter as their children astonished them with what had been achieved in just a week.

In a summer of firsts, both projects were digitally diarised via a sequence of online vlogs which proved to be a real hit amongst parents and participants. See the Blast Vlog here and the Boom vlog here.

Pictures from the week of Blast can be seen here and from the show here, whilst pictures from Boom can be viewed online here.

As is always the case, DVD’s of both projects are available from our online shop.

Details of our Summer courses for 2016 will be available soon.