The phonecall came…
”Would the Kaos Signing Choir like to open the show at “Rotary Makes Music 2018”? “
“Where?” we asked.
“The Royal Festival Hall, London” came the reply.
“We would love to!”
Our tale started there. There was lots and lots of organising. Firstly, we had to find out if the children were available to perform that day. We contacted Blanche Nevile School for Deaf Children and Highgate Primary School to make sure that there were no school trips or other events planned and were happy to hear that there weren’t. Out went all the letters and emails letting everyone know about this exciting opportunity to perform at one of Britain’s most prestigious and famous venues. Then permission slips went out and came back, filled in by the parents of excited children who couldn’t wait to sing and sign songs in front of hundreds of people on the Southbank.
When we told the choir members they couldn’t believe how lucky they were and wanted to go there straight away. Many of them had never heard of The Royal Festival Hall but as soon as we explained and showed them pictures of the venue on the internet, they were raring to go.
New T shirts were ordered, we all wear the same t shirts when performing so that everyone feels equal and part of Team Kaos on stage.
Rehearsals were great fun. The choir members chose the songs we would perform at the start of the show, “Respect”, “Down, Down Baby”, “Build It High” and “True Colours”. All of these songs share a message which is the ethos of our choir, Teamwork, Respect, Inclusivity and Fun!
On the day, all the children were lined up, packed lunches in hand, smiles on faces and ready to go!
We travelled by coach, through London, to The Southbank. Many of the children were wowed to see the sights of London as we travelled through Camden Town, central London and arrived at Westminster Bridge. “Look everyone, walls with art on them, statues, the River Thames and The London Eye” they happily signed and shouted to each other! The Deaf children in our choir were delighted to teach the hearing children the British Sign Language signs for these landmarks.
When we arrived, we walked to The Royal Festival Hall, entered through the Stage Door (another first!) and were led to our dressing room on the 3rd floor. We had our snacks and waited to go on stage for our rehearsal. When it was our turn, the choir walked through the labyrinth which is Back Stage, unaware of what they were about the see. As they filed into the Choir Stalls on the main stage they fell silent when they saw the stage and auditorium below them. The Royal Festival Hall is a beautiful 1950s concert hall which was built for The Festival of Britain and is a sight to behold. The Deaf children pointed excitedly at the lights, the stage, the orchestra below and the thousands of seats which were soon to be filled with an enthusiastic audience of friends, family and strangers.
Our rehearsal went smoothly, the technical staff ensured that our signing hands and faces could be seen and our voices heard, and any last minutes nerves from some of our choir members melted away.
There was no time left to return to our dressing room before the show, so we stayed on stage as the audience filed in and the auditorium filled.
The Signing Choir sat and behaved beautifully and professionally as this happened, smiling at their waving parents in the audience. (They didn’t wave back, this was The Royal Festival Hall, they wanted to look as professional as possible, and they did!)
The lights went down, the MC introduced our Signductor, and we taught the entire audience how to clap in British Sign Language.
We started to perform! The songs went down a storm, the audience cheered, clapped, laughed and even cried. Many of them had no idea how an Integrated Signing Choir worked, but they soon found out and were as delighted as we were to share our Signed Songs.
At the end of our performance, we bowed, sign-clapped the audience, and walked off stage feeling thrilled, proud and buzzing with the adrenalin a live show gives everyone.
As we walked passed the performers waiting to go on stage we signed “Good Luck” to them and went back to our dressing room. The excitement felt by all the choir members was palpable and the giddiness lasted all the way home as we travelled through a, now dark but lit-up London, back to school.
The feedback we received has been wonderful, many people messaged us telling us they had never seen anything like The Kaos Signing Choir for Deaf and Hearing Children before, and that they felt privileged to be part of our performance.
We are all still talking about this amazing experience and cannot wait for the next show!