Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

December 4th, 2018

“I’m never going to wash the circle off!”

This blog was written by Malcolm Jennings, one of our longest serving Actor/Teachers. Malcolm is the Tour Leader of Careless Talk and has been delivering the programme to year 5 + 6 groups across the West Midlands.

“From the Circle in our Hands
To the Circle in our Hearts
To the Circle in our minds,
To the Circle in us all.”

Taken from the Careless Talk script. 

The Play House Theatre in Education Careless Talk The Circle Key Stage 2 West Midlands
“I am never going to wash the circle off” Yr6 Pupil

But as the circle inevitably fades and I think back over the tour I am amazed at how the programme continues to grow in response to the children each time I work on it. Of course, it is a sad indictment that we are having these conversations with our children but also heartening in their whole-hearted willingness and ability to grapple with issues of fake news, trust and injustice.  Early on in the tour a Yr6 child observed that our antagonist was confusing “Justice with revenge” this became a key element in the deradicalization of our central character Scarlet near the end.

At the start of Careless Talk, we stamp a circle on the hands of children to enrol them as members of The Circle. An identifiable community group characterised by a clear set of values; Tolerance, Respect, Adherence to the Law, Democracy and Personal Freedom. They live in a diverse modern city and proudly display a circle in the palm of their right hand to demonstrate their commitment to those values. On a day of great significance for the young Circle members underlying tensions and resentment boil over.

The children are drawn towards an extreme organisation operating within their Circle community before being brought up short and realising the way they have been manipulated and how easily they have been led astray. They urge Scarlett, to follow the key principles of the community and reject the extremist rhetoric of violence.

“You will just make it worse, ‘coz they will want to do the same back, it’s’ like an eye for an eye” Yr6 Pupil.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to talk about British Values and the complex and sensitive issues around extremism with teachers and children particularly when Children have the insight to identify that the two extremists that they encounter during the programme, whilst appearing to be on opposing side are actually very similar.

Teachers too have welcomed the chance to begin the conversation with their children too making use of the fictional context to talk about this difficult subject.

“Really supported our PSHE lessons around British Values. Children were more aware of the news and acts of terrorism than I’d expected” Yr6 teacher

“That was exceptional; extremely well handled; I have never seen anything like that before. You got them thinking so well and you got them to articulate really complex ideas” Yr6 Teacher


We hope that as the circle on the palms of our hands fades the standard greeting of the Circle “Together we are Stronger” and the words of The Circle promise remain, fuelling a continuing conversation with the children and their teachers that we have met over the course of the term.


Careless Talk will return in the summer term 2019.
Until then… remember… “Together we are stronger!”

November 26th, 2018

Meet our new Marketing and Sales Assistant, Mathilde.

Just two weeks ago, our newest member of the team, Mathilde (pronounced Ma-til-da), joined us to take on the role of Marketing and Sales Assistant.Mathilde will be working to help us promote what we do, and to help tell the story of the work The Play House is doing in educational settings across the West Midlands.
Mathilde has previously worked in theatre marketing for Black Country Touring, Big Brum Theatre in Education and Central Youth Theatre. Mathilde is also a theatre director, practitioner and actor. She is currently directing two youth theatre shows and works as a freelance practitioner. She has been acting since she was 8 years old and has performed at four international theatre festivals. Mathilde has just graduated as a member of the Youth Steering Committee for Beatfreeks and is very interested in using art as a form of activism – particularly with young people and those in the criminal justice system.
Mathilde is also a professional face painter and travels across the country painting glittery rainbows, unicorns and butterflies on peoples faces.

She’s just getting her feet on the ground but you’ll certainly be hearing from her soon.

You can follow her on twitter: @MathildeMaePetford

August 20th, 2018

We are recruiting…

Are you a self starter who loves a challenge?
Do you have experience in marketing?
Would you like to enable more young people to access the arts?

Then we have the job for you.

We are looking for a Marketing and Sales Assistant to join the team at The Play House

Email Rebecca for details on how to apply –

Deadlines for applications are on the 07th September 2018.

Malcolm J
July 20th, 2018

Autumn term

The conversation in our office is never dull and is constantly shifting freely over a wide range of topics. This is no less true as the term winds up, if anything it intensifies as we get busy preparing our touring programmes for the Autumn term.

The creative team for “Lest We Forget”, our KS2 programme that commemorates the centenary of the Armistice, arrive next week to work with Juliet on the research and development. While Malcolm is revisiting and updating “Careless Talk” our KS2 programme that discusses British Values.

So far this morning we have discussed poetry and letters from the First World War and the contribution of soldiers from the commonwealth and how the contemporary media shapes our attitudes and opinions.

All this and it is not even 12.00 yet, cup of tea anyone?

Juliet F
May 15th, 2018

2018/19 Programmes Now Available To Book

It’s been a busy few weeks at The Play House as we’ve been finalising our programme schedule for the coming academic year. After a number of caffeine fueled meetings and discussions, we are happy to present our new brochure for 2018/19.

Schools Programme Brochure 2018/19

Our programmes for 2018/19 address a range of themes and requirements from across the curriculum, including:

  • English – speaking & listening, more effective writing
  • Literacy and numeracy
  • British values
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing
  • History – WW1
  • Science – earth and space, forces
  • SMSC – safeguarding,
  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSED)

CPDL INSET, residencies and bespoke projects.

We can also offer CPDL offer for teachers working with EYFS to KS2, tailor-made and timed to your requirements, with either individual schools or consortia.

Please get in touch if you would like to make a booking or discuss any of the programmes touring throughout 2018/19.

The Play House


Gavin M
May 11th, 2018

Public Performances

Little Red Hen

For children aged 3+ and their families
Saturday 02nd June 2018
11.30am & 2pm
Birmingham Repertory Theatre

Take a journey round the farmyard with the Little Red Hen as she tries to enlist help from the other animals to plant and grow corn. Using puppetry and games, share in the rewards of baking a real loaf of lovely fresh bread in this delightful interactive show.

Both shows are close to selling out. Tickets are available here.

May 2nd, 2018

Introducing our new General Manager

I grew up visiting Birmingham every Saturday to see my grandparents, including visiting the REP, Hippodrome and the MAC, so it was with great excitement that I accepted the role at The Play House.

I previously worked within Education and Theatre Management and I’ve been involved in many youth projects where I’ve seen first hand how theatre can impact and change lives. This has always been a passion of mine, and so joining The Play House is a great privilege.

It is also a great time to start as the team are busy sourcing final props and rehearsing for the start of term.  I’m looking forward to visiting the schools and seeing the children join in.

I’ve also been working alongside the team to finalise our new brochure which has a range of exciting and participatory theatre for schools starting in September.

For all the children and families that might not get the chance to see The Play House in school, you can still join in the fun baking bread live on stage in Little Red Hen at the Birmingham REP on Saturday 02nd June if you book quickly.


April 20th, 2018

Moving on

Like many arts organisations, The Play House has had some ups and downs over the past few years, so it was with a mixture of excitement and trepidation that I took the job of General Manager six years ago. I was really pleased to be working with a company I had known and admired for many years, but daunted at the challenges of the economic and political climate.

Despite these challenges, the company has managed not just to survive but to thrive. This is a testament to the exceptional quality of the work and the skills and dedication of the people delivering it. The Play House has an important legacy of work going back over 30 years and continues to adapt to changing environments whilst staying true to its ethos and values. No matter how difficult things get, there will always be a demand for intelligent and engaging work for children. The Play House’s unique participatory approach has proved itself to be highly effective in addressing a wide range of issues and stimulating learning across the curriculum.

As I prepare to leave The Play House for my new role at China Plate, we’ve been putting the finishing touches to next year’s programme. The new brochure will be in its way soon and includes some old favourites and some exciting new developments that I’m sorry not to be able to see through. I know that Gavin, Juliet, Malcolm and Simon will continue to do amazing things and I wish them all the very best in the adventures to come.


Gavin M
February 16th, 2018

We’re hiring


Our General Manager is leaving us in April for pastures new. Over the summer, we’ll be working with a consultant to carry out an organisational review to ensure that the company is resilient and in a strong position to deliver our programme for the future.

We’re recruiting an Interim General Manager to oversee the operations of the company while this review takes place and until the revised structure is finalised. This is a six month contract starting in April.

Download the job description and person specification here.

Closing date: 5pm on Friday 09th March 2018.

Interviews: Thursday 15th or Friday 16th March 2018.


Malcolm J
January 28th, 2018

Spring 2018 Primary tours

We have just finished rehearsals for the programmes touring primary schools this term. We have limited days available on our tours. Call Gavin on: 0121 265 4425 if you would like to book a session for your school.

By the River Bank (Nursery & Reception)

By the Riverbank is an interactive introduction to the natural world and adventure stories, inspired by the world of The Wind in the Willows.
Portly, the baby otter is missing from home and Ranger Ruby Ratcliffe needs to search her beloved riverbank and find him before nightfall. If only she had help? In this multi-sensory drama, the children search for clues and discover a secret world full of animals, adventures and stories.

Mosaic (KS1)

Mosaic explores the ingredients needed to tell a really good story. Two adventurers in a strange land open a magic story box and the long forgotten tales and characters inside need sorting out! The children help out using their own imaginations and ideas, investigating a land of kings and queens, magic and ritual, journeys and quests

The Last Train (KS2)

The Last Train explores the real stories of Jewish children who left Nazi Germany on the Kindertransport, some of whom came to live in Birmingham. It follows the journey of Inge, who flees persecution after Kristallnacht and takes the last train out of Germany to a new life away from her home, friends and family.

CDPL: using drama to challenge extremism and explore British values

We are also offering a new Continuing Professional Development and Learning opportunity which will focus on using drama to challenge extremism and explore British values

Our twilight CPDL is an ideal way to build the skills and knowledge of all your staff in teaching British values and challenging extremism with children. Drama is a powerful and transferrable learning tool and our specialist practitioners will model how to use it to support SMSC development. The session draws specifically on our Careless Talk KS2 programme.

The 2 hour session can work with up to 25 people and costs just £300

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss any of our available tours this term.