St Edmund's

School News

The cast for this year’s production ‘Remember’ are currently away in Krakow, Poland. Check back here and on social media to follow their journey leading up to the production.

day 5 – auschwitz

‘Remember’, has been created by us and is based almost entirely on testimony, mostly from Holocaust survivors – and with that comes a monumental responsibility.  How on earth can our cast of L5 – U5 pupils (Year 9 -13) begin to bring these people to life onstage, to exist truthfully as characters in those imaginary circumstances, to stand in the shoes of people who have experienced such incredible atrocities?  So today was what really brought us all here to Poland, to visit Auschwitz and Birkenhau, helping to educate the cast of ‘Remember’ and to prepare them for their performances.

As we drew near, the tone on the coach became much more sombre and as we entered Auschwitz and then Birkenhau silence fell. What were, up until this point words on the page of a script, or at best two-dimensional black and white photographs, began to become a reality; the cast’s imaginations were fired up as they crossed the iconic railway line that carried the victims to their deaths, as they descended the stairs of a gas chamber, as they stood in front of Block 10 where victims were forced to endure the living nightmare of being ‘experimented’ on, as they stood in front of the Death Wall, where so many were stripped naked and shot or under wooden makeshift gallows, where victims were hanged as punishment or to set an example to others, and as they stood on the arrival platform/ramp where ‘selection’ took place, where most of the characters they are playing said goodbye to loved ones, torn from each other’s arms and forced to take their place in one of two long lines by armed guards – ‘death to the left’, life (if you can call it that) to the right’. Something that is beyond the imagination of humankind began to become imaginable for our cast, as they glimpsed what, for their characters, was a nightmare reality.

We cannot express just how incredibly proud of all of our exceptional children we are, for their bravery, for their empathy, for their support of each other, for the complete respect they showed to the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis. Well done, children. Well done.

Howard Sykes

Asst. Director of Drama 


day 4 – variety is the spice of life

Our penultimate day was as varied as it was exciting.  We began the day having to sprint as fast as Usain Bolt, in time to catch the bus to our host school – why do kids always turn up late?  Having finally caught our breath we arrived at the school for a day of cooking and drama…and there was a lot of drama when cooking, I can tell you.  

The owner of the school, the wonderful Krystyna Mayak, had arranged for a top Krakovian chef to teach our kids, joined by some Polish pupils, to prepare four Polish dishes, including, of course, pierogi (stuffed dumplings – delicious) which would then be cooked for our lunch.  Different preparation stations had been set up and the kids were shown how to cut, chop, mix, knead and stir delicious, fresh ingredients and artfully assemble them together ready for the oven.  It was such terrific fun, completely chaotic, but great fun!  And as well as encouraging them to be brave and taste traditional food from a different culture, it will hopefully help teach the kids life-long cookery skills.  It was also a fab opportunity to bond more with our Polish friends.  I was so proud of how our kids went about the whole business.  The lunch when it arrived, seriously, blew us all away, it was delicious, healthy and all made by the kids.  If this doesn’t get them off the Macdonalds nothing will!  

After lunch Mr Lorentzen and I ran a few drama classes for the English and Polish pupils, which were enjoyed by all; once more our kids supported their Polish friends admirably, the Polish pupils gaining in confidence all the time.  During my first drama class it was a lovely surprise to see our very own Mr. O’Conner, pop his head round the studio door as he was being shown around the school by the Polish Head teacher, having jetted in from the UK to join us for our day at Auschwitz.  Once we left the school, sadly for the last time, our trip was to become more serious as we headed for the Oskar Schindler factory, now a superbly curated exhibition, documenting not just his heroic rescue of over 1100 Jews but Polish history before, during and after WWII.  An incredibly powerfully academic enrichment experience for us all and one the kids will never forget.  

I have said many times now just how impressive our young people have been on this trip but here they were exceptional – keen to listen and learn, respectful every step of the way.  When I arranged this trip with the help of our hosts I did not expect just how fortuitous it would be as a perfect antidote to the Oskar Schindler factory to follow it with some Jewish dancing in Kazimierz, the Jewish quarter.  Our ‘choreographer’ was a psychotherapist by day but traditional Jewish dance teacher by night, and soon had us all dancing and oi, oi, oiing with sheer delight and unadulterated joy.  Fabulous! This was followed by a delicious Polish meal in the Jewish quarter where we were joined by the senior management team from the host school.  A wonderfully varied day.

day 3 – mountains and rivers

Croissants with jam, heaps of coffee and freshly made scrambled eggs set us up for the journey that lay ahead. Through the coach window, far in the distance, we could see the jagged peaks of mountain tops quite unlike anything back at home and this was to be our destination for Day 3 of our Polish trip.

After about an hour the roads became more twisted and the landscape began to change; houses became more chalet-like and spruce trees sprang up all around us, creating an Alpine feel as we neared the Tatra mountain range that forms a natural border between Poland and Slovakia. As we neared our destination, the blue sky suddenly disappeared and we  descended into a thick mist, with visibility no more than a foot or so in front of the coach window. But just as we resigned ourselves to a day without views, as quickly as it came it disappeared, and we emerged above the mist into glorious blue sky and sunshine.

Now we knew that we were going rafting, but quite what that looked like or entailed was a mystery. Images sprang into our minds; would it be white water rafting (if so we certainly weren’t dressed for it), logs tied together with rope that we stood on like paddle boards (again, if so we weren’t dressed for it)? You can imagine our relief when we saw large raft-like boats, with seats – not only that, but we had Polish men in traditional dress to punt them along for us. Perfect. And for the next two and a half hours we were treated to beautiful mountain scenery, with Poland on one side of the River and Slovakia, literally on the other bank, some rafts meditative and reflective, bathing in the silent beauty of the scenery, some a little more rowdy, some full of laughter, as our pupils bonded with new Polish friends and each other. We finally landed for lunch in an Alpine village to feast on Chicken, potatoes and salad – and Wow! believe me when I say Polish chickens have the biggest legs ever! Good job we had the chance to walk it off as we made our way back to the coach and then home to Krakow. A nighttime stroll around the beautiful main square finished off the day perfectly and as us weary travellers began to yawn and flop we made our way back to the hotel for a good night’s rest…

Mark Sell – Director of Drama