21 Jul Summer 2016 Update
With the end of the school year fast approaching, now is a good time to stop, draw breath and share what we have been up to at the Blahs since Christmas.
We have just finished a very successful tour of A Tale to Tell to a small number of primary schools, libraries and theatres within the region. Inspired by the Arabian Nights and featuring shadow play and blending spoken Arabic and English, the piece was very well received and we are going to retour it during Summer 2017, extending its reach nationally.
‘This performance was incredible… the performers’ interaction and rapport with the class exceeded all expectations. The performance was lively, innovative and pitched perfectly for the Yr6 pupils…the pupils have returned to school inspired by both the drama delivered and the story-telling… Being able to watch experts in their field can inspire pupils to pursue the arts further in their lives.’ Teacher whose class saw A Tale to Tell
We have also led Continuing Professional Development projects with 14 teachers in six Primary Schools, supporting them to integrate drama into their classroom practice and were selected to be a part of CapeUK’s Specialist Leaders in Cultural Education initiative. This involved us working over a sustained period of time with Siddal Primary School in Halifax to explore the impact of drama on children’s engagement and literacy.
“It’s an opportunity for the children to see you in a different role and taking the risk…you develop a different working relationships with the children.” Teacher participating in the CPD work
To mark the end of our 30th anniversary year, we have had an exhibition of photographs at Leeds Town Hall and we are to be included in an applied theatre archive held by Special Collections at the University of Leeds. They are currently sorting through 30 years’ worth of documents and images, which once categorised will be accessible to the public.
Our collaborative project exploring ‘Partition’ also gathers momentum. Deborah, our Artistic Director went on a second R&D trip to Delhi in March, accompanied by writer Mike Kenny and Drama Education Specialist Dr Geoff Readman. They had really productive meetings with schools, met many people touched by the events of ‘Partition’ and worked with our partners Yellowcat Theatre to begin to explore material.
“It would have been possible to create a piece about Partition without coming here (India), but catching the authentic voice of the subcontinent would have totally escaped me. The work with artists has been focussed and rich, but also, the stories which have poured out of people wherever we go, have been an invaluable resource. You don’t just read the stories, you hear the voices, see the faces, feel the importance.” Mike Kenny.
The R&D visits sowed the seeds of two performances – Leaving and Returning:
Leaving will be a dynamic, multilingual performance for children and young people from the age of 9 years. Drawing on the testimonials of those who lived through ‘Partition’, the performance will universalise actual historical events, employing a physical and at times playful style of storytelling to tell the tale of the journey ‘from here to there’, offering possibilities for understanding, hope and progression.
Returning will be an immersive, multilingual, participatory performance for small audiences of young people aged between 13 and 16 years. The piece will feature a child from Leaving, now elderly, who carries memories of ‘Partition’ but has not shared these with family members. The performance will explore what happens when these past events collide with the current lives and beliefs of younger family members, raising profound questions of identity, place and ‘other’.
Beyond the two performances, an online participatory community building website and digital resources will be developed in partnership with C&T extending the creative learning opportunities for audiences.
We are currently waiting to hear the outcome of our bid for funding to Re:Imagine India – a joint Arts Council and British Council initiative – to support this work…suffice to say we are all keeping our fingers crossed!
In common with all arts and charitable organisations the current educational and economic climate makes for challenging times. However we remain passionately committed to work in schools seeing the positive impact the arts can have on both teachers and young people and their engagement in learning and the world around them.