Roll Up! is a new Snappy Opera created by Jack McNeill, Claire Willoughby and Annie Ruscillo with and for Sandgate School in Kendal. It is inspired by contemporary circus, natural elements and ancient traditions of entertainment where Tumblers; Fortune Tellers; Magicians; Flyers; and Daredevils reveal the magic in the everyday.
Roll Up! Is an immersive, sensory experience. Although the entire score could be condensed down into approximately 12 minutes of original music, the premiere performance took place across 2 days in Sandgate School. We took core musical ideas and expanded them - using improvisation, intensive interaction, variation and repetition with each “act” set in a different class, in response to the pupils themselves and the musical ideas they helped us create.
Roll Up! was created throughout the school year 2022-23, involving students throughout the school (aged 4-19) and staff in different aspects of making the piece through sound, storytelling, movement, and design. It was performed at Sandgate School on 29 and 30 June 2023. A recording of this performance will be screened in Cumbria (see our What's On section on the home page for details) and we will be talking about the process at Cumbria Music Education Hub Music Conference next year.
Roll Up! will be revived in North Tyneside in 2024, in partnership with North Tyneside Music Hub, ahead of our Snappy Operas Festival in 2025.
It's hard to describe the joy, pride and sheer panache with which the children delivered individual lines and sang the choruses. The Mahogany musicians, dressed in crazy collage clothing and the children in their own handmade costumes processed around the space and enthusiastically engaged with the rhythms of the music and movement that conjured the performance to come….At the end of this Act a child, who had been particularly energetic, remained in the performance space lying on a bench and did not want to move. His Mum/carer came out of the audience and picked him up. The way he fell limply into her arms and the tenderness with which he was received was worthy of any modern dance choreography and moved me to tears.
I think it's amazing that we (you) had the vision to bring this into Sandgate, in that it reflects - in fact it is the epitome of - the rightly high ambitions we set for our students. The brilliant and inspiring execution of this opera is proof that with the right level of belief in them, planning and support, they can do amazing things.
Teacher, Sandgate School
It was entirely child-led and highlighted the strengths of our pupils. Our pupils got the opportunity to experience and be part of something they wouldn't usually experience. The staff involved with the project were amazing and built fantastic connections with the pupils.
Teacher, Sandgate School
As a parent, it’s absolutely lovely to see your child performing, it’s a rite of passage for children to get up on stage in front of family and friends and put on a show. But the format of what you would normally see in a school play doesn’t necessarily work for a lot of Sandgate Children. The structure is too formal and rigid for them, learning lines, and knowing where they need to be on a stage is not easy for them. I think the Opera was a stroke of genius, it worked brilliantly. The children loved it, and so did the (other) parents.
Parent, Sandgate School
Cumbria Music Conference
01 February 2024
Low Wood Bay Hotel, Windermere - Mahogany Opera & Sandgate School present a workshop exploring new ways of working with children with additional needs, and integrating music into the school day, based on learning from Roll Up!
Film Screening - Public Screening
31 January 2024
Venue TBC - attendance by invitation only
Film Screening - Sandgate School students and families
29 November 2023
Kendal Brewery Arts Centre - attendance by invitation only
29-30 June 2023
Sandgate School, Kendal
Sandgate School is a SEND school in Kendal focused on the education of students with a diverse range of talents and abilities.
We are most grateful for support from the following individuals: