This week and last saw ten new projects start at six primary schools across Hertfordshire and Cambridge. You can find more details about this year's projects here. We are delighted to be supporting children's learning and social development as they navigate the return to school. So far our classes have read through their scripts and chosen characters to make, and the feedback has been great!
Here's the Bewick Bridge Primary video of Oliver Twist, filmed by YPPT project leaders and two bubbles of children in June-July 2020.
At Wolvercote Primary this year, the Year Six class performed and filmed their production of The Mechanical Gardener when they went back to school in June/July. Year Six teacher Mrs Hansen was also the project leader and was able to direct and film the show herself. The school also did the editing, and we're so impressed with the result!
We've been back at Bewick Bridge Primary School this month, filming their show Oliver Twist - at a distance, of course! The children were divided into two social bubbles, and the bubbles took it in turns to film alternate scenes. Here are a few behind-the-scenes photos.
This week sees the YPPT take on a new challenge as we teach puppetmaking remotely for the first time! 22 Year 9 students at the Purcell School have been sent puppet kits and are making their puppets at home, taught via Google Classroom by our Executive Director Jeremy Duschenes. Today's challenges include making their puppet's heads and assembling the bodies.
The Purcell students are making puppets from the story Oceanova, which was the winning entry in our scriptwriting competition held in partnership with Commonwealth Writers. Written by Preeti Sharma, the story is about coral poaching in the Lakshwadeep archipelago, and one girl's fight to save the oceans. The performances will take place at some point next academic year.
This weekend, we were hoping to present the findings from the University of Hertfordshire's impact study run in 2019 at the Cambridge Festival of Education. Unfortunately, the Festival was cancelled due to coronavirus, so instead we've made a short version of the talk that we would have given, which you can see below. Senior Project Leader Caitlin looks at what makes our projects unique, and why they have such a profound impact on the children involved.
To help stave off boredom and keep young people creative, we're running a scriptwriting competition for ages 10-18! Here's our administrator Caitlin with more details, or you can find out more over on our Competition page.
The YPPT was founded in 2014 by father-and-daughter team Jeremy and Caitlin Duschenes, who come from a long history of puppeteers in the family. For World Puppetry Day this year, we're looking back at the history that inspired the YPPT with a few photos from a production of Stravinsky's The Soldier's Tale by Jeremy's father Mario in 1947. The puppets are made out of lead - luckily these days we use safer materials!
A further update on our school-based projects after the government announced school closures:
From Monday 23rd March, we will be suspending our projects in schools until further notice. We very much hope that schools will be able to open again at some point in the summer term, and we will be working with our partner schools to ensure that projects are able to be completed where this is reasonably possible. If this is not possible, our priority will be to ensure that children take their puppets home with them and will liaise with schools to facilitate this.
This is a hugely difficult time and we are very grateful to all our supporters - trusts, foundations and individuals - for your ongoing support and flexibility. We are taking the time away from project delivery to look to the future, as we are currently hopeful that things will be closer to normal from September. It will be a crucial time in children's lives as they navigate a return to school and process the changes that coronavirus has brought. The skills taught in our projects - teamwork, self-esteem, resilience - will be needed more than ever before, and we look forward to working with our supporters and partner schools to bring these benefits into children's lives.
Just a quick update on how the COVID-19 epidemic is affecting the YPPT's work:
As of today (18th March 2020), schools are still open in the UK, so our school-based projects are still running, and will continue to run as planned as long as schools remain open to ensure that children do not miss out.
However, our other projects - the community workshops at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans and at St Neot's Library - have both been postponed indefinitely in the interest of public health. We are hopeful that both projects will be completed later in the year, and will be working with the Abbey Theatre and The Library Presents programme to ensure this.
We are hugely grateful to our funders who have been incredibly supportive in this difficult time. Many thanks to you - the trusts, foundations and individuals who believe in us and who continue to make such a difference in children's lives.