We're delighted to be starting projects at four primary schools this month - Wolvercote Primary in Oxford, Central Primary and Highwood Primary in Watford, and Bewick Bridge Primary in Cambridge! First off - time to read the scripts and work out which character each child will make.
(Pictured - one of last year's scripts from the production of Macbeth at Bewick Bridge, with excellent annotations!)
Last week we ran this year's training camp for new project leaders. Lovely to have such enthusiastic recruits on board, and to welcome back Ronnie Le Drew for his masterclass. We were also joined by some of the volunteers from last year's intergenerational project based at St Albans Abbey.
A very powerful story from one of our recent projects. We rely on donations and grants to keep our work going - to support us, please give what you can on our Donations page.
This week saw four great performances by Class 4 at Breachwood Green - congratulations to all involved! Here's a sneaky look backstage.
Fantastic performances this week from the children at Highwood School - congratulations to all the children who've worked so hard!
Last week, our two classes at Central Primary School in Watford performed their shows for the rest of the school, their teachers and their parents. The shows went wonderfully - the younger audiences were enthralled and many teachers and parents welled up with emotion and pride at the children's achievements. Photos and videos of their performances will be up soon; in the meantime, we'd like to share the words of the headteacher Dr John Mynott who wrote about the project on the school blog:
"Sometimes as a head teacher you stumble across a project that is truly remarkable and that brings significant learning and value to the school’s community. I am pleased to say that the Young People’s Puppet Theatre (YPPT) is a wonderful example of such a project.
A year ago when we first spoke about the project I had no real idea what the project would entail, but I also thought it sounded like a good way to develop the collaboration and design and technology skills of our Year 6 pupils. The reality far exceeded my expectations.
So what have Year 6 accomplished?
It started with the puppets. Each and every child has created a character for the puppet show. They crafted their heads out of clay. They decorated them using paints and gave them hair. This was a really creative an exciting part of the process. The range of ideas and creative outcomes was phenomenal.
After the heads, the puppets needed to be assembled and clothes needed to be created. The pupils had to consider what their puppet would wear and how they could use a textile pattern to help them create clothing that would fit their puppet’s body. This really developed and refined their textile skills and got pupils to think more carefully about how clothes are made.
Once the puppets were assembled they needed to be strung. Again the pupils did this, making sure hands and feet were level and that their heads did not tilt too far forward.
If it had just been puppets the project would have already have been amazing, but it was more than puppets! After completing the assembly of the puppets, the pupils had to think about the design of their backgrounds and how the puppets would interact with the scene. These designs then needed to be scaled up and painted. What was incredible here is that some of our pupils really shone at this skill. They could visualise how to plan out sections of their grids to replicate their design.
Once backgrounds and puppets were complete the children needed to learn how to be puppeteers. Then they could put their skills together as a team to run their whole puppet show.
You might think that adults would be needed to do this, but the project is designed to ensure that the children work as a team to plan, and perform their shows. A stage manager (a pupil who is elected) takes overall control and everyone else has specific jobs to do. It is incredible how everyone realises that their job is essential to the whole show and in the rehearsal they really do pull together.
The final performance is theirs. And it was spectacular!
By chance, we sat next to someone at a meeting who told us about this project. And I am really grateful for our good luck, because it has brought a whole world of wonderful puppets to our current Year 6 and I am very excited about the work we will do with the YPPT next year. I would definitely recommend this project to anyone looking to bring something amazing to their design and technology and creative arts curriculum."
Our students at Stony Dean School have been finishing up their puppets over the last few weeks - they've created some amazing otherwordly characters for their production of A Midsummer Night's Dream!
We had another lovely morning at St Albans Abbey this morning working with our group of volunteers who have been making puppets and sets in weekly sessions since January. They've made a lot of progress recently, with some people making up to four puppets each, and others working hard on the backdrops. We also started props for the shows today.
We are delighted to be introducing two new shows to our library this year, both written by Rebekah King - The Crossing Place, about the life of St Alban, and A Grim Day Out about Lord Grimthorpe, who was influential in the development of the Abbey in the nineteenth century. The two productions will use the puppets and sets made by the volunteers, and will be performed by Year Six children at Alban City School, who will be stringing the puppets later this month, and beginning rehearsals next month. The shows will be performed to the public at the Abbey on Monday 24th June - tickets will be on sale on the Abbey website soon!
With the Easter holidays starting tomorrow, we've finished rehearsals for this term at Central Primary. The puppets, props and sets are all ready to go and we've blocked out each scene - looking forward to bringing the two shows together after the holidays! In the meantime, we hope you all have a lovely restful break.