10th February 2019
I’ve seen this story about “Darwin Rocks!” spreading over the news and just wanted to comment for anyone who’s interested.
Darwin Rocks! is a musical for children that I wrote in 2017 following the success of my earlier musical “Shakespeare Rocks!” It’s had some fantastic feedback, for which I am very grateful. My heartfelt thanks to all the schools worldwide that have staged “Darwin Rocks!” over the past two years, many of which are faith schools.
It surprises me that a non-faith school have cancelled their performance of the musical following complaints from a few Christian parents who were offended by some of the content. Sadly, this decision seems to have upset many more pupils who had been preparing their production of “Darwin Rocks!” for some time, along with their families who argue that their children are being deprived of a good learning opportunity.
As a practising Christian and a worship leader at our local church, I am saddened by these events for all sides.
The school itself have bravely admitted that their initial reaction was hasty. However, I don’t blame them for their decision. Having worked in the state sector of UK education for 12 years, I understand the mounting pressures that teaching staff constantly endure to deliver without upsetting. To assist them with this, my musicals are thoroughly vetted by a collective of experienced working teachers. In addition, customers also have the option to make changes to a production if they so wish. With “Darwin Rocks!”, I think a minor adjustment might have satisfied the few parents who were unhappy.
My publisher commissioned me to write “Darwin Rocks!” as a historical comedy musical for young people. It doesn’t take sides, it presents several sides in a hopefully-amusing way! A lot of hard work went into handling the delicate subject matter whilst making it fun. As a team, we did our best to ensure that the show was appropriate while encouraging children to connect it with what’s relevant to them - the modern aspects of life they experience outside school - the music they enjoy listening to; the TV they watch.
Anyone who analyses the “Darwin Rocks!” script and the songs will hopefully see that they’re written with heart and don’t patronise the audience they’re intended for.
Having re-examined the scene in question, I certainly don’t think I’ve mocked my own faith or Sam Wilberforce, God rest his soul.
A single line in the song “Groove Of Evolution” has also seemingly been misinterpreted and incorrectly scrutinised in isolation. The whole song illustrates a timeline of evolution, starting with the oldest and simplest organisms and finishing with modern humans. The rhyme in question can be found in the first verse. It refers to “small animals without any feet” (bacteria, basically) colliding before mutating (“bump and grind”) then “changing to another kind.” The lyric was never meant to cause offence in schools and evidently hasn’t done so in two years of numerous performances across the globe. Anyone in doubt of the song’s meaning can study the original recording and complete lyrics simply by Googling “The Groove Of Evolution”.
Returning to the school where this issue first arose, I would kindly ask those few offended parents to reassess the script and songs, knowing it was written by a fellow Christian who just wanted school children to have fun learning their national curriculum. We remember fun things. They make us smile, lighten up and look at ourselves with humility. As stated before, schools are free to adjust the show to their needs if they deem it necessary.
Everyone from every faith deserves the freedom to debate Darwinism. I am pleased to hear that the children will still study this important National Curriculum subject so they can have their own view on it. Music and comedy can be helpful tools for sparking interest within young people and this is why “Darwin Rocks!” was made. Should the school decide not to benefit from it, I’ll respect their decision.
Regardless of whether the school goes ahead with “Darwin Rocks!”, I hope that the parents can accept the different views among them and bring the matter to a harmonious conclusion with the teaching staff. I particularly wish their children all the best with their future performances.