Sophie Todd writes :
In June 2014 the youth theatre group from South Hill Park, Bracknell were invited to perform in a theatre exchange at Landrat-Lucas Gymnasium in Leverkusen, Germany. My Name is Sophie and I was 19 years old when we set off. As someone who hasn’t travelled all that much I was extremely excited to have this opportunity. I was the 2nd Oldest of the group, with a cast of 7 Girls ranging from 15-22. Although from the first rehearsal there was no notice of age difference between any of us and we have become great friends.
After we got off the plane we were greeted by some of the young people who we would be staying with and their teachers. I had a phrase book at the ready and butchered the easiest phrase- to which all the students who had greeted us replied in perfect English. I was amazed how good everyone’s English was wherever we went.
I Stayed with Lisa and her Parents. They were probably one of the nicest, most welcoming families I have ever met. Nothing was too much to ask for and they would always ask if I was okay, if I needed anything and they really enjoyed learning about my life in England. I also really enjoyed having dinner with them as they had many family stories about World War 2 and the East/West divide. Lisa is now what I hope a life long friend, we have much in common. We both said how great it was that we got paired up as we had a mutual love of the same type of music. We have kept in touch since and I hope she can come to visit me.
We were taken on some really interesting trips around museums and exhibitions. Going up the Cologne tower and the German National Museum were two personal favourites. Landrat-Lucas Gymnasium was a very welcoming place, all the teachers and students were very keen to know about what we were doing and where we had come from. I was surprised at how many pupils spoke English and would ask me questions. As someone who has completed both school and college It was interesting to sit in on a lesson- the pupils ranged from 14-19 but to me it felt more like a college environment as they wore there own clothes with no uniform.
The night before the performance we were all invited to a barbecue hosted by the family Suzie was staying with and watched a Germany world cup match. This was a lovely evening and it was great to spend time with a mix of people from both Germany and England.
We were all extremely nervous about the performance, particularly as the way the script is written making it very hard to learn lines as all of the lines overlap and characters shout over each other etc. I found the workshops that Joey and Max led on character really useful not only for Top Girls but for other roles I would play. We all thought it great to play characters who were so different from each other and who bounced off each other. I really liked doing an all girl piece with such strong female characters as plays usually have a male dominance.
I spent most of the trip laughing my head off and I was really pleased at how the performance went. I’m really grateful for all the hard work that went into organising it and especially Joey and Max for being such great directors. I made some great friends and got really close to everyone who went. It was definitely a trip I won’t forget.