Archive for the ‘Infant/Key stage 1’ Category

Gavin M
March 12th, 2015

Drama offer for new KS1 programme

In preparation for our Autumn 2015 schools tour, we have a limited number of pilot sessions available in June of our brand new KS1 drama programme Rummage. The pilot sessions are priced at just £100.

Rummage is an exciting new programme for KS1, using creative storytelling and puppetry to explore the imaginative possibilities of the things we throw away every day. The children will also begin to unearth the story of a mysterious dump dweller and reflect on ethical issues around waste, recycling and consumerism. Rummage has been developed in partnership with Theatre Company Blah Blah Blah.

please get in touch if you would like to take advantage of this offer.



Gavin M
January 29th, 2015

Spring 2015 Tours

January started with a very busy and energetic rehearsal period in preparation for this term’s projects, a great way to burn off all that goose fat consumed over the holidays!

This week, Malcolm has started the tour of Bag of Beans, our Key Stage 1 programme set in the world of the traditional tale of Jack and the Beanstalk. By using their mathematical knowledge the children will be invited to investigate the world of the giant, and by undertaking challenging quests they will unlock his secrets in the hope of finding their way to his treasure.

Also this week Juliet and Kim have begun the tour of The Romans, our Key Stage 2 History programme which explores life in Britain under Roman rule at the time of Queen Boudica’s revolt.

Simon is currently on the last leg of the very popular tour of Tapestry in Secondary schools, colleges and PRUs. The programme explores the implications and consequences of extremist thinking and action. After half-term Simon will be touring, our Early Years Literacy programme, By the Riverbank, which immerses children in a rich fictional world inspired by Wind in the Willows. There will also be public performances of this programme performed at The Birmingham REP in April. More information can be found here.

There is limited availability on all tours this term but we will try to accommodate any booking requests as best we can. Our Summer term primary tours are starting to fill up fast too.

Further information about all the programmes listed above can be found through the ‘Latest Projects’ section on the home page of our website and for Summer term 2015 information please get in touch.
Tel: 0121 265 4425


Gavin M
May 13th, 2014

2014-15 primary tours now available!

We’ve now planned all the Foundation and Primary tours for the next academic year, including some exciting new projects and the return of some old favourites.

The booking forms for next academic year are now available to download (see the link at the bottom of this blog entry).

Some of our most popular tours are making a return, such as our early years programmes Climb Aboard and literacy piece Bag of Beans. There are also some popular programmes that will undergo redevising, these include Out of the Box, A Tale to Tell and Bag of Beans.

New for next year is Foreign Fields which has been created for the centenary of World War 1, Foreign Fields uses the experiences of real people in Birmingham to explore how the war in Europe affected the lives of people at home. We are working with the Archives and Heritage Service at the Library of Birmingham to research the stories of people and places across the city, such as school halls that were requisitioned as hospitals, local families who welcomed Belgian refugees into their homes and children whose lives changed while their fathers and brothers were away at the front.

To see the full list of programmes available and for more information on how to book please follow the link below.

Primary programmes available for 2014-2015.
Click here to book now!



Simon T
January 9th, 2014

Public Performances

As part of the Birmingham Repertory Theatres First Stages programme, The Play House are adapting four popular Language Alive programmes for public performances. First Stages is the ideal way to introduce a new generation to the delights of theatre and features plays especially for nursery and primary school-aged children.

Language Alive! First Stages – Spring/Summer 2014

Saturday 8 March 11.30, 14.00 & 15.30
Age 7 – 11
The Door

It is Florence in 1633 and the great scientist and astronomer Galileo is about to arrive and give a demonstration of his discoveries, when the terrible news comes that he has been arrested as a heretic. Stargazing provides an interactive experience that explains Galileo’s theories of planetary motion to prove to the judge that his theories are not heresy but fact.

Saturday 15 March 11.30, 14.00 & 15.30
Little Red Hen
Age 3 – 6
The Door

Little Red Hen needs to plant her wheat. She asks the other farm animals for help but no-one is willing to give her a hand – are you? An interactive version of the well loved children’s story with puppetry, games and lovely fresh bread.

Saturday 24 May 11.30, 14.00 & 15.30
Roll Up, Roll Up!
Age 3 – 6
The Door

As he works sweeping up at Zelda’s Circus, Bim dreams of performing in the big top, but never gets a chance to walk the tightrope or try on the costumes. As Bim shows you all the strange and wonderful things inside the circus, will he find his special talent and make his dream come true?

Saturday 28 June at 11.30, 14.00 & 15.30
Age 4 – 7
The Door

Come on in to Uncle’s Story Shop, full of lots of exciting objects that he uses to make story bags for his customers. One day, his shop is broken into and everything is stolen. He needs your help to create new stories and in return, will help you create your very own new stories.

For more information on the Language Alive programmes being performed, other exciting projects from The REP and to book tickets please visit the First Stages page here.

First Stages

Gavin M
October 24th, 2013

No Kidding

Our current tour of No Kidding has been receiving some fantastic feedback and our intern Lily wanted to share her experience so far working on the programme:

Well! Bally and Billy have been doing Fun Time now for a good few weeks and they are learning such a lot each day. They are fast becoming the very best friends that ever was, all thanks to the beautifully thoughtful suggestions from children in Years 1 and 2 from primary schools in Birmingham. Since speaking to the children, Bally now realises that Billy is her ‘BFF’ (Best Friend Forever) and for it to stay that way, Bally must ‘pinky-promise’ to be ‘nice’ and ‘kind’ to Billy and NOT put cake in his face or poke him in the eye.

Amongst some wonderfully caring suggestions, the boys and girls have told Bally that being nice and kind means ‘sharing toys’ and buying Billy a ‘talking yo-yo’, ‘biscuits’, ‘a new computer’,’a new guitar’,’a new hat’,’an XBOX 360′ and whatever else he wants for his birthday. Bally went with the new hat… which luckily, Billy loved! Oh, and Bally must always ‘remember her manners’ when talking to Billy and has been advised that she must ‘collaborate’ and ‘persevere’ with her relationship with Billy. Once she googled this, she was very grateful for the suggestion (and very impressed by the intelligent Year 2)! Oh and another thing – if Bally ever, EVER feels angry again, she must sit away from Billy and count to 10 and take 3 deep breaths. However, if she is really, REALLY angry she must count to 20 or even ‘a million sqwillion’ if she thinks she might shout. Following this, she must go to the shop and ‘buy lots of ice-cream’ and share it with Billy before going to the park to play ‘Tig and Tag’, ‘Stuck in the mud’ and ‘Transformers hide and seek’.

Bally and Billy are so grateful for all the help that children in Years 1 and 2 have given them. The gentle and delicate thoughts and ideas that the children have offered in hope to re-establish Bally and Billy’s friendship have been truly heart-warming… and worked! Bally and Billy continue to make more and more friends along the way, (and my juggling is coming on a treat!).

I wonder how many more friends Bally and Billy will make tomorrow…!


No Kidding explores friendship, co-operation and bullying through the eyes of a pair of ‘overgrown children’, Bally and Billy. The programme is current touring schools and has been a popular choice for support around Anti-Bullying. For more information please call 0121 265 4425 or visit

Gavin M
June 6th, 2013

Next year’s primary tours now available!

We’ve now planned all the Foundation and Primary tours for the next academic year, including some exciting new projects and the return of some old favourites.

Last year was the 25th year of Language Alive! tours and the first in our new partnership with the Birmingham Repertory theatre. The booking forms for next academic year are now available to download (see the link at the bottom of this blog entry).

Some of our most popular tours are making a return, such as our early years programmes Roll Up! Roll Up! and numeracy piece Little Red Hen. There are also some popular programmes that will undergo redevising, these include No Kidding, Pharaoh’s Footsteps and Peep.

New for next year is The Little Match Girl which relocates Hans Christian Andersen’s classic story to 19th century Birmingham in a new programme using an engaging mix of puppetry and toy theatre to explore historical issues and moral dilemmas. The Little Match Girl is being developed in partnership with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and links with their main house production of A Christmas Carol. Schools booking The Little Match Girl before 5th July 2013 will be eligible to make group bookings for A Christmas Carol at the Early Bird rate.

To see the full list of programmes available and for more information on how to book please follow the link below.

Primary programmes available for 2013-2014.

Click here to book now!


December 7th, 2012

Bye Bye River Bank!

After being on tour since October 1st, it is now time to say goodbye to Ranger Ratcliffe and Molly, it has been an adventure and a half! 

The devising/rehearsal process for By the River Bank was very interesting for me. I was curious to see how it would work devising with a director and to see how you can produce a relevant educational programme from a traditional story for Key Stage 1. The story of The Wind in the Willows had its challenges because the story doesn’t present very many obvious issues that we could work with. Then we started talking about the idea of adventure, taking risks and possible danger versus home. This closely linked with the part of the story where ‘Mole’ gets lost in the Wild Wood wherefrom we came up with our character the poor lost soul Molly (get it?), played by yours truly!

We made a conscious decision for this character to not talk. We didn’t establish why or whether she can talk, we just thought it would be a very interesting thing to experiment with. It turns out this decision had a very positive impact on the piece for many reasons. It made Molly quite a vulnerable person which then allowed the children to take her under their wing and look after her, with the result that Molly had the lowest status rather than the children. The thing that surprised me the most was how the children reacted to Molly. Not speaking and being very vulnerable had a very interesting impact on the children and how they participated. They grew very fond of her very quickly which was lovely. The fact that Molly doesn’t speak instigated a lot of discussion amongst them but in the end, most children just accepted it and moved on, which was great. I even got my first ever bit of fan mail! Our other character was Ranger Ratcliffe the insect inspector based on the character ‘Ratty’ and played by the one and only Malcolm Jennings!

Working with a director whilst devising was a new thing to me. It involved a lot of experimenting here and there, talking about random things and lots of cups of tea until we came up with our piece and then rehearsed it lots. It was good having an outside eye when we were rehearsing and someone to give an opinion on how to improve. It was difficult to rehearse without the children so the first time we took it out we were curious to see how it would work! It wouldn’t work as a piece of Theatre without the children since they are main characters in the story! It was different each time we did it and were constantly tweaking things. I found it great how we had the freedom to do that up until the last day.  It has been an excellent two months touring around Birmingham, I need to hibernate now!

I am now an expert in staying still for very long periods of time under piles of leave or alike, not talking (which some people may enjoy!) and pretending to laugh at Malcolm’s jokes!

I will miss Molly but now it is time to start thinking about the next project All Aboard! which I am looking forward to!

Have a merry Christmas!


Gavin M
July 5th, 2012

Programmes now available for 2012-13

This is the 25th year of Language Alive! tours and the first in our new partnership with The Birmingham Repertory theatre.

The booking forms for next academic year are now available to download (see the links at the bottom of this blog entry). Apologies for the delay – only during the week we were finalising the schedule, my wife went into labour!

We’ve attracted funding from The Arts Council for two exciting new tours; Nori! and All Aboard! (click to find out more information). Nori! will see a collaboration with the Birmingham based Hanyong Theatre Company and Buksetung Theatre Company from Seoul, South Korea. They will come together to share expertise to create a new piece of multilingual participatory theatre for the early years.

All Aboard! has grown out of the story of the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway, one of the oldest in the world, connecting industrial Birmingham to the spa town of Cheltenham. The programme uses the lives of the individual characters to explore the dynamism of this inventive era. All Aboard! is available for Years 5 & 6 and will also see a collaboration, this time with the Everyman Theatre Cheltenham.

Also new for next year will be Key Stage 1 programme By the River Bank, a charming new programme which explores the world created in Wind in the Willows, the enduringly popular children’s tale of Mole, Rattie, Toad and Badger by Kenneth Grahame and builds on the company’s extensive experience of creating storytelling programmes inspired by classic stories such as Into the Garden. The piece will also link into The Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s Christmas show.

Some of our most popular tours are also making a return, such as our Key Stage 1 health education programme Fit for a King, and our Early Years creative play piece Things That Go Bump…

We are also pleased to announce the return of two of our older projects; Hansel & Gretel, an exciting literacy programme devised for pupils in years 3 and 4 which encourages a fresh look at a well established story and Ganging Up, an ambitious participatory performance that explores the complex and sensitive issue of gangs and gang membership with young people between the ages of 9 and 11. This programme has been funded by The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

You can find out more about all these programme by clicking the links above, or by downloading the brochure from the Language Alive! page, where you can also find the booking forms. Please get in touch if you’d like any more information.


September 2nd, 2011

No Kidding at ArtsFest!

The Play House will be presenting ‘No Kidding’ at ArtsFest on Sunday 11th September at 2pm in Birmingham Conservatoire’s  Recital Hall

‘No Kidding’ is a fun and slapstick participatory programme designed to improve the quality of children’s relationships with each other, and it’s one of our Language Alive! theatre-in-education tours for 2011-2012. Designed for 5-7 year olds it’s one of our most requested programmes, and an excerpt is presented free at ArtsFest, performed by Malcolm Jennings and Simon Turner.

‘No Kidding’ explores notions of friendship, co-operation and bullying through the eyes of a pair of ‘overgrown children’, Bally and Billy. In the best traditions of clowning, Bally and Billy struggle to maintain their friendship at work and play. Amidst all the fun there is a serious lesson to be learnt when Billy downs tools and the pupils must take the lead in resolving the conflict between the two larger-thanlife characters. Will the pupils be able to help Bally see the error of her ways and get her to apologise to Billy? Will the two make friends and get to perform their big finale?

Visit its website to find out more…

Juliet F
July 31st, 2011

The end of an era?

For the last few years I have been lucky enough to be part of the Creative Partnerships programme led by Bright Space in Birmingham both as a creative agent and as a drama practitioner.

For 3 years I supported two lovely primary schools, Erdington Hall and Nonsuch Primary to work with artists and develop their creative curriculum. Teachers and children worked with outdoor visual artists, digital media artists, Mantle of the Expert practitioners, dancers, gardeners and a whole host of other creative practitioners. I hope the schools continue to work creatively to engage their children and I have found it fascinating to document the work. So a big thank you to the staff and children at both schools for making feel so welcome and for making me a much better project manager. Won’t miss the CP data base though!

I’ve also been reflecting on what I’ve learnt working on the projects that I delivered as a drama practitioner and storyteller and it’s hard to boil it down in a blog but here goes:

• Children are more confident as writers, speakers and thinkers if they feel a sense of ownership over a story and feel like they have participated in its making.

• Using a mixture of process led drama and performance techniques supports different kinds of learners.

• Stories are made to be told!

• A child’s imagination is often richer than the pictures in a book.

• Never expect children to respond to a story in the same way.

• Unlocking the imagination is the problem not a lack of imagination.

• Stepping into a story should mean just that – we go in together and grown ups need to be in role too!

I’ve worked in partnership with wonderful teachers across Birmingham and Coventry to use drama and story to develop children’s literacy, speaking and listening, imagination, writing, confidence and play. So thanks to Whitmore Park, Stanton Bridge, St John Vianney and All Souls primary schools in Coventry and to Hillstone, Skilts, Sundridge, St James R.C, Clifton, Anderton Park, Lillina de Lissa Nursery, Washwood Heath Day Care and Kingsthorne for having me.