Imaginative pupils shown the ropes by expert screen writer

TIPS Television screen writer Sarah Phelps works with Cara Brunnen, 14, left, and Emily Nagel, 15, from Priory School. Picture: 'Ian Hargreaves  (122201-1)
TIPS Television screen writer Sarah Phelps works with Cara Brunnen, 14, left, and Emily Nagel, 15, from Priory School. Picture: 'Ian Hargreaves (122201-1)

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STUDENTS brought their imaginations to life thanks to a famous screen writer.

Sarah Phelps, famous for writing more than 50 episodes of EastEnders and adapting Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations for the BBC, visited pupils from Priory School, in Fawcett Road, Southsea for a screen writing day at Action Stations in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

She gave students invaluable advice on their scripts and how to get into the industry as part of the Great Expectations Portsmouth Festivities event.

The extravaganza brings together Portsmouth’s literature, art, music, film and theatre to celebrate Dickens’ birth 200 years ago and revel in the excitement ahead of next month’s Olympic Games.

The year 10 pupils formed workshops and wrote short five-minute plays using Dickens’ famous stories as inspiration for a contemporary piece.

The day ended with performances in the venue’s auditorium.

Sarah said: ‘The day was to engage the GCSE students in the whole idea of English, communication, telling stories and the idea of characters to get them excited about writing.

‘It’s just like opening a door in their imagination and see it as a fun thing, and maybe something they would like to think about in the future.’

Phil Wright, general manager of Action Stations, said: ‘It is about getting the children to look at their aspirations and getting to understand how they can move on from GCSE English.

‘The groups dealt with modern characters or Dickens’ characters. Although 200 years apart, they have the same problems, but slightly different jobs and have to deal with real social problems.’

May Holliday, 14, Kayleigh Hartt, 14, Reece Dann-Grech, 15, and David Toma, 14, all took part in workshops.

Kayleigh said: ‘This is a lot better than learning in the classroom.’

They were joined by their English teachers Helen Hatton, Hannah Treagus, Loraine Button and Charlotte Yeoman.

Mrs Button said: ‘Script writing is now part of their GCSEs and hopefully this will inspire them.’


· The Boat Project – Gosport Story Sail. Greeted by children from local primary schools, the children, using their own stories of how they have come to live in Gosport will share them on pieces of sail cloth. Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower, Priddys Hard, 10am.

· Charles Dickens. A direct descendant of Charles Dickens, Lucinda Dickens Hawksley presents a definitive illustrated guide to the man and his works. Royal Naval Club and Royal Albert Yacht Club, 17 Pembroke Road, Old Portsmouth, 10.30am. Admission £8, concs, booking essential.

· Warm up for the Olympics with Ensemble 360. Get physical and join us for this free event when choreographer Anna Olejnicki will lead up to 200 people in an aerobics-style dance to a brand new piece of music especially written for this event by US composer Stephen Montague. No experience needed! All ages and abilities welcome. Mountbatten Leisure Centre, Twyford Avenue, 1pm.

· Lunchtime Live. Featuring Portsmouth Cathedral Choral Scholars. St Thomas’ Cathedral, High Street, Old Portsmouth, 1.10pm. Admission £5, concs.

· In the Footsteps of Wyllie. Illustrated talk by Nigel Grundy. Mary Rose Museum, Historic Dockyard, 4pm. Admission £8, concs.

· Composing Master Class. With Stephen Montague, who will lead a workshop for selected participants. The Michael Nott Rotunda, Portsmouth Grammar School, High Street, Old Portsmouth, 4pm.

· Evensong. With the Portsmouth Cathedral Choir. Music by Bevan, Holst and O’Regan. St Thomas’ Cathedral, High Street, Old Portsmouth, 6pm.

· Ensemble 360. Music in the Round’s resident group makes its own contribution to the Olympic celebrations with a programme designed to inspire us all to get active. David Russell Theatre, Portsmouth Grammar School, High Street, Old Portsmouth, 7.30pm. Admission £15, concs.

· An Audience with John Bird: The Christopher Hitchens Memorial Lecture. The founder of the Big Issue will be the inaugural speaker at this event. Action Stations, Historic Dockyard, 7.30pm. Admission £10, concs.

· The Boat Project – Thirty Pounds of Bone presents The Ship’s Log. A collection of songs created on the high seas, documenting each part of the boat’s maiden voyage. Cellars at Eastney, 56, Cromwell Road, 8pm.

· Cathedral Service: Twilight Compline. With the Choral Scholars. Music by Deane and Tye, 9.15pm.

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