Writer/Director: Empath Action CIC
2024 is Wakefield District’s Our Year, a series of events celebrating the area and supported by Wakefield Council. Among the events is the Alice Gostick Zine Launch and Blue Plaque Viewing at Castleford Library on March 2.Breaking the Mouldis best seen as a contribution to these celebrations, an unassuming community play about the art teacher who inspired Henry Moore and Albert Wainwright.
Alice Gostick, born in 1875, made her name as an original and highly successful teacher at Castleford Secondary School under the benign supervision of headmaster T.R. (Toddy) Dawes.Breaking the Mould has been put together by the group Empath Action and supported by Red Ladder and mainly centres on Moore’s education and the traumas of World War One. On his return from war Moore, though 20 by this time, is presented as a school boy and embarks on his first sculpture, a school war memorial.
The action is framed by Alice, her sister Constance and Henry Moore at the time of the next war when Moore worked as a war artist, then we switch to the school: the problems of Toddy Dawes are celebrated fairly much in cartoon style with the previous preposterously posh art teacher walking out and a series of bright snapshots of potential interviewees – with Alice, of course, appointed.
It’s always difficult to convey the impact of a good teacher: the process in reality is such a lengthy one! So the class (entertainingly and energetically played by young people from Wakefield College’s Mechanics’ Performing Arts) begin as a typical class from a Will Hay film. Miss Gostick has trouble restraining them, then stirs their interest with illustrations of the French avant-garde and eventually decides to liberate them by encouraging them to pursue their own interests. Henry and Albert join her pottery evening class and she retains the regard of Henry Moore as he gains fame in the 1920s and 1930s.
The script is somewhat naive, but a suitable tribute to Alice Gostick and the production, spread over one end of Horbury’s splendid Cluntergate Centre, runs briskly and efficiently, with those not involved in the action generally lined up at the back.
Eve Tinsley projects Alice’s determination and sincerity in a crisp performance; Katie Greensmith is more expansive as her sister; Jack Moorby is an engaging Henry Moore, fitting in alongside the youngsters as part of Miss Gostick’s class; and as Toddy Patrick Gregan unaffectedly conveys his pride in the school.
Reviewed on 10th February 2024. On tour in Wakefield.