Archive for the ‘Language Alive!’ Category

February 19th, 2013

Public performances

Our new production All Aboard goes out on the road to schools in Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Birmingham from Monday 25 February. It explores the effects of the coming of the railways in the mid 19th century, told through the experiences of the different characters.

As well as the schools tour, we’re doing a number of performances in public venues, including some where you can experience the power of steam for yourself:

Sunday 3rd March, 10am, Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway, Toddington
Ticket information: 01242 572573 or

Monday 8th April, 2pm, Artrix, Bromsgrove
Ticket information: 01527 577330 or

Tuesday 9th and Wednesday 10th April, Severn Valley Railway, Kidderminster
Ticket information: 01299 403816 or

Thursday 11th April, 2pm, The Hive, Worcester
Ticket information: 01905 822866 or

Juliet F
January 25th, 2013

Korean adventure

I have just returned from Seoul, Korea after a fantastic two week visit to workshop ideas for our new Early Years Language Alive programme, Nori (which means play in Korean) with Hanyong Theatre.

Alongside our director Peter Wynne Willson and Shropshire based composer and musician Mary Keith we worked with a really great group of Korean drama graduates, actors and a musician and designer.

We were based in a school in the Seongmisan Village where we were made to feel very welcome by members of the community.

We have returned with a wealth of ideas including songs, stories and settings shared and generated throughout the workshop period. The actual devising begins this Monday with Pete and Mary and Korean actor and drama practitioner Sosun Lee and myself will be touring Nori to Birmingham schools from late February.

Our translator and friend Yerang Seong will be glad to hear that the Ginger and Apple tea has been keeping me warm this week and I miss our civilised lunches and lots about Korea already!


Gavin M
September 5th, 2012


Malcolm will be performing 3 drama workshops at this year’s Artsfest, a free annual festival of arts held in various venues in the heart of the City of Birmingham.

The workshops are based on our new theatre-in-education programme By the River Bank 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. This charming new programme builds on the company’s extensive experience of creating storytelling programmes inspired by classic stories such as Into the Garden and links in with The REP’s forthcoming Christmas production of The Wind in the Willows.

Each workshop will last 30 minutes and will all be performed on Saturday 08th September. Further details of the venues and times can be found below. All ages welcome.

Performance 1
Venue: Waterstones, New Street
Time: 11.00 – 11.30

Performance 2
Venue: The Council House – HMS Daring Room
Time: 13.00 – 13.30

Performance 3
Venue: Conservatoire, Arena Foyer
Time: 15.00 – 15.30

A 90 minute programme is currently being developed for years 1 & 2 and will tour schools between October-December. Details on how to book the schools tour can be found here.

By the River Bank will immerse children in a rich fictional world and involve them in the various adventures and mishaps and negotiating the friendships of the story’s main characters.


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.


Gavin M
May 11th, 2012

Programmes for the next academic year

Hi there,

I’m not usually one to blog but recently I have received so many calls from schools about our programmes for next year that I thought I would post a little update.

We are currently in the final stages of confirming our schedule for the next academic year and we have some very exciting projects already lined up. I hope to be sending out all of the information in the next few weeks.

If you do have any questions you would like to ask in the meantime please call me in the office on: 0121 464 5712.


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…

June 14th, 2011

25 years of bringing the curriculum to life

September sees Language Alive!‘s 25th year of bringing the curriculum to life across Birmingham and the West Midlands.

We’ve just released next year’s programmes which are available to book. Apologies for the delay – funding, as you’d appreciate, has been a bit scarce, but we’ve been able to raise enough to keep school contributions the same as last year.

We’ve also been able to attract funding for some exciting new work. The Arts Council has supported two linked tours this year – Peep! and Mosaic (click to find out more information). Both will be distinct programmes, but both will explore ways of creating theatre that is more accessible to a wider range of children. Peep! is available to Nursery, Reception and Year 1, and Mosaic for Years 2 & 3.

Another exciting project will be taking place at the evocative Moseley Road Baths. Pool of Memories will use the stories collected from the local community to explore the history of this fascinating building, and is part of a wider Heritage Lottery-funded project being run by the Friends of Moseley  Road Baths – you can find out about that project at

Paper Chase is a project that might seem familiar to some schools, but we’ve submitted a bid to the Clore Poetry and Literature Awards to build on previous work to make best use of enhanced digital audio technology and interactive resources. The aim is to offer greater support for the teaching of literacy, andprovide children with a dramatic impetus to create their own original poetry.

Some of our most popular tours are also making a return, such as our Key Stage 1 bullying and relationships programme No Kidding, and our Early Years numeracy piece Little Red Hen. There’s a strong selection of historical work too, with 7-11 year olds taken back to Tudor Times to explore the story of Anne Boleyn and Where there’s smoke… transporting them to the Great Fire of London. For Years 5 & 6 Saving Hope will explore the human stories around the outbreak of the plague.

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.

Guest blogger
April 14th, 2011

A word from the trenches…

I have worked at Anderton Park School for a number of years and taught in different year groups. Language Alive! has always been a wonderful experience for the children. It is tailored to their needs and is age appropriate. So often other theatre-in-education is about performance only.

Language Alive! is effective because the children are involved and this leads to great follow up work. It is never about a one off performance.

Teachers have very different personalities and over the years there have been teachers who do not want to be involved in anything brought in from outside the school. In fact they never appear to emerge from their classrooms !!!!

However, Language Alive! is different. One year a previous Head Teacher was going to stop Language Alive! due to the cost. The teachers were very upset and every single teacher complained that it was a tremendous experience, and because of this he changed his mind.

Every time Language Alive! has been in school  teachers praise all aspects of the programme and how it has helped the children in their class. The children look forward to it, knowing that every year Language Alive! will come into school. These are remarks children have made about Language Alive! programmes.

” I thought I was really there”

” It made me think”

“I learnt without it being boring.”

” You understand stuff better”

Celia Reeves

Every Child Matters Manager/Teacher

Anderton Park Primary School.

No Kidding, photographed at Anderton Park Primary School

Alex p
February 25th, 2011

The Play House…exactly what it says on the tin (except it’s not a house)

I’ve been at this awesome place for just over 4 months now and believe me, in that short amount of time, it feels like I’m the member of a family!

The people who work here or with us are just brill; it’s like someone has just rounded up a group of lovely people, branded them with the “PH” poker and involves you in everything that happens.

I came along 5 months ago and was given an interview for Apprentice Administrator; i thought “Ok, got my happy face on, let’s go for it!”. To my surprise I was interviewed by 3 staff members…wow…where is that cloning machine when you need it?

When we got talking, it didn’t feel any more than a friendly chat, it just felt comfortable and flowing. It’s a shame all interviews aren’t like this…with tea to boot! (I’ll talk more about this later).


Went to my first Play House meeting and my god was I baffled; everyone was talking about funding, plays and what people are doing. Even though I didn’t have a clue, I listened and learned a lot, and now I still have no idea! (I’m joking).

I work in the office all my time there but if there is a programme going out, I do get the humble chance of seeing them and it’s a fantastic opportunity.

The first play I saw was a programme called On The Edge, talking all about extremism, how to recognise it, query it and how to deal with it. It was great, the Teacher/Actors were in-depth and very believable and the energy that was given off and received for both the audience (children) and the actors was….well you need to be there to know what I mean. There were a lot of times in the play where I wanted to leap up and go “Oi! You shouldn’t be doing that, that is not nice!” (Yes I’m 20 years old but I’m a kid at heart). What surprised me the most was the fact that the children in year 5 knew words like extremism, terrorism, etc. At that age I was learning words like difficulty, octagon…so the education nowadays has far exceeded when I was a nipper and I’m thrilled to know that children are becoming more intelligent  and how fast they grow.

Another programme i saw was called Fit For A King. Phew! Talk about keeping in shape! It teached children all about food diets and how to stay active and healthy. The fact that the children were doing better jumping jacks then I was, made me realise how this programme was perfect for me!

Mr. Tea, Mr. Tea….Mr. Tea!
Believe me, the amount of time being here, my blood must actually be…tea! Whatever we do or wherever we go there will always be a cup of tea in our hands. It’s what keeps us going, what gives us our inspiration and development and also what keeps people making a funky beat with their sipping and gulping!

Tea is the very foundation of The Play House, without it we’re nothing but an empty mug. I must admit…I used to have 4 sugars in my tea (bad I know) and now I’m down to 1, so I’m proud of myself (the fact that they have weaned me down cause of my high energy and many toilet breaks might be the reason). Warning: Be ready to get addicted!

The staff here are….well shall I say varied? They come in all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life. To be honest there is not one person I do not like, they’re all friendly and wacky in their own way and there is never a time when you feel left out. One of the unique points is that each one has a great knowledge of their role and they have had background experience before.

It’s just awesome to know they take their work to a high standard and that they genuinely enjoy what they do, and I feel proud to know I’m working alongside them as the “PH” team (we do fight crime during night-time), creating such out-of-this world works of art and promoting the growth of children for the future! That’s what I love about this place.

My first blog…maybe one day I’ll look back at this and say – “There’s what I wrote! Wow! Autographs anyone? Only if there is a cupper involved!”.

November 18th, 2010

Carl Chinn meets The Play House!

Tune in to Carl Chinn’s radio programme on BBC Radio WM this Sunday!

From midday you’ll hear Juliet and Malcolm talk about some of the company’s heritage-based projects, from a storytelling project based on the life of the Ladypool Road to participatory theatre-in-education at the Museum Collection Centre in Birmingham.