Jamila Gavin visit

We were delighted and honoured to welcome the author of Coram Boy, Jamila Gavin to Walthamstow Hall on Wednesday. Following an invitation from Miss Ferro, Ms Gavin travelled from Gloucestershire to see our production and was very generous with her time both before and after the performance.

Ms Gavin’s novel won the Whitbread Children’s Book Award before being adapted for the stage and playing at the National Theatre and on Broadway.

Head of Drama Mrs Bower Morris introduced the author to the cast and crew in the Ship before opening the floor to questions. Ms Gavin spent a good half hour answering everyone’s questions, giving insight to her creative process and sharing the sources of her inspiration.

She said that Alexander was her favourite character and that through him she could explore issues of class, wealth and freedom. She pointed out that the character of Thomas Ledbury, a carpenter’s son, had more freedom to live his life as he chose, as a musician, than the wealthy Alexander whose father expected him to run the family estate. “Alexander had to run away to become free.”

She revealed that her idea for the “Crying Wood”, where Meshak and Otis buried unwanted babies, was based in fact. While visiting friends in northern England, she learned that children who had died working in factories in the C18th had been buried by their parents in a local wood, because they were unable to afford a funeral.

Afterwards she mingled with the cast on the Ship stage, congratulating students on their performances. Jamila Gavin subsequently tweeted that the production was “Passionate, robust wonderfully directed by Victoria Bower Morris. Superb music with Emily Leather.”

Mrs Bower Morris said: “It was the pinnacle of my career as a Director to have someone of Jamila Gavin’s calibre tell me ours was as good a production of Coram Boy as she has ever seen”.

Speaking to the author of this fascinating book and play on our own stage was an unforgettable experience for students and staff alike.

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