Archive for the ‘site specific’ Category

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.

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.

October 21st, 2010

Engaging schools

Deborah has been work with our colleagues over at Tide~ to look at learning outside of the classroom. 

She has been looking back on the work that they’ve been doing, and this has just been published on the Tide~ website. You can read her reflections here, along with articles from other members of the group.

Juliet F
November 16th, 2009

Missing out on play?

This half term was spent with a lovely bunch of ten children making up a collective story here at The Play House.  They ranged from seven years old to eleven and brought a host of wild and interesting ideas with them. It was sometimes a struggle to keep them all entertained.  I was amazed at how much they needed to just play – with ideas, situations, the drama space and each other.

It is making me think about working on relatively short projects and how much time we can give young people to ‘play’ without adult intervention.  Good quality small group drama demands a healthy dynamic and co operation but if you’re working with a group for just a few hours they need more time to develop these skills.

I’m often talking to teachers who mention that their children seem to lack imagination and I think some have often missed out on the chance to ‘act out’ and role play ideas, situations, characters and things they have imagined and seen.  It would be great to provide older children with more opportunities to do this in school.  But how?

The Play House has talked often of creating a multi sensory environment here at The Play House for children in Key Stage 2.  We have already created one for children in the Early Years with The Selkie Girl a few years ago.  That environment was crucial for children to understand the concept of the seaside in the Selkie story.  They played in a real wooden boat, collected shells and threw sand and none of this was particularly adult led.

I wonder what it would be like to offer older children that opportunity?  What environment would it be?  Should we work with even smaller groups and allow them lots of time to explore?  How would all of this impact on the drama?

Rochi R
May 18th, 2009

Talk about emotional memory…

Since stepping out of the role of Administrator, I have returned to The Play House in a freelance capacity to work on a number of projects as teacher/actor. Working on Gold Dust, however, was my first experience as Tour Leader.  My time as Administrator set me up for certain elements of the role of tour leading teacher/actor, so in many ways I was prepared, and knew what to expect.  This ranged from having a good understanding of the company’s ethos and approaches to work, to liaising with schools, and already having developed relationships with long standing clients.

As Administrator I got the opportunity to be involved in all of the projects run by The Play House, handing over to delivery teams, or dipping in and out as and when my administrative/organisational support was needed. In a way, I had an umbrella view of all of the projects that took place.  But as Tour Leader, my involvement was intensive and on one project alone.  Jointly with the delivery team, we were responsible for seeing the project through from beginning, middle, right through to the end.  As Tour Leader, having direct experience of the programme in progress, day after day, week after week, was exhilarating.  Hearing amazing comments from the children about their responses to the programme (“That was the best school trip ever!”) was something I rarely experienced first hand as Administrator.

My role as Tour Leader enabled me to give full rein to two very different interests of mine; aspects of project management allowed me to utilise organisational skills, whilst devising and delivery drew on creative and performance skills.

When I think about the differences in the two roles, I can’t help thinking about the similarities, and it strikes me that some things never change.  For instance, whether working as a permanent employee in the office, or as a returning freelancer, I still found myself drinking copious amounts of tea! And then there’s my obsessive relationship with the stationery cupboard. I’m one of those people who loves a nice new notepad or a brand new block of blue tac. I just love books and files and folders, and as Administrator I loved being responsible for stationery shopping. Then, as ‘Miss Nancy’ in Gold Dust, I found myself situated in the office of a jewellery factory, playing a woman who prides herself on running a ‘tight ship’, surrounded by boxes and books, sorting orders, filing invoices, and keeping and organising ledgers.  Talk about emotional memory…maybe it was my perfect acting role.

Naomi W
March 24th, 2009

Students discover early mornings . . .

On entering the Gold Dust project at the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, students at Birmingham School of Acting we were unsure how much freedom and responsibility we would be given. Throughout the devising however we were given complete freedom to input ideas and work on the piece. This gave me a very professional experience as I was, for one of the first times, trusted with the work and what I and we as a team of teacher/actors could creatively achieve for professional performance. Working with Rochi and Paul was equally fantastic, they treated us as any other colleague and we all got along throughout the project, team building at lunchtime over the daily horoscopes!

Going into the first week of the performance I was quite intimidated at the prospect of having to perform professionally and improvise so freely in role, but the amount of research we had done into the roles in the two weeks of rehearsal gave us a great grounding and I think this is something we all achieved well as a team.

What I loved the most about Gold Dust and working with Language Alive! was it’s ability to confirm my future plans. As we began the project I had strongly considered going into TIE when I left university and working with the children so creatively and seeing their pure enjoyment throughout the project has sparked a real desire to embark upon this element of applied theatre and I am now thoroughly grateful for the experience. I think the only bit I didn’t enjoy about the project was the early mornings, but I think this is something that will come with time and the absence of being a student!