"Seeing the children’s imagination, skills and teamwork growing throughout this experience has been delightful."
Mrs Lim, Head of Art, Unicorn School, Richmond
On the first morning we introduce the story to the 70-500 participating children. The story is usually a World Creation Myth – Mayan, Aboriginal, Chinese, West African, Egyptian to name a few. We also introduce the children to puppetry and we ask them what they have to do to meet the challenge of making a huge show with all of them in it in just a few days.
We then spend the required days making the puppets, approximately 60 puppets a day. These can be any creature ranging from crabs to giraffes or moles to kangaroos. Whatever they are, they are always splendid. Whilst the children are making their own puppets we prepare some bigger creations for them to work on such as Nyame the Sky God or Quetzacoatl the Feathered Serpent or a school of dolphins or a train of elephants.
Meanwhile back in their classrooms there are many related activities that can be pursued. Often, the school becomes adorned with posters and programmes prepared, storyboards worked on and invites are hand-made. Sometimes schools build their programme for half term around the themes or culture inherent tin the story we have selected together. When the puppets are all made, it takes a day or two to put the whole show together. This depends on the size of the cast and the scope of the production.
We all gather, as we did at the outset on the first day, but this time there is puppet for each student plus the giant puppets. In this session we map the show, share achievements and narrator/writers are self-elected. Across the day the narration is prepared and each puppet group devises and rehearses their parts. In the evening we complete work on the script and the soundtrack. And all is ready to roll halfway through the next morning.
Our residency finishes with a day of performance of a massive, spectacular show by a cast of 100, 200 or however many students are involved - all performing to invited audiences of other children and parents. The performances invariably exceed expectations. And that is what they are about – not succeeding or failing – but exceeding.
This happens through:
- Setting an authentic challenge
- Creating a strong sense of common purpose
- Managing and facilitating an inspiring creative process
- Designing and constructing appropriate high-quality puppets
- Realising a multi-dimensional, spectacular theatrical event…
…that is, above all, theirs
Film made by Mark KirbyDonate now