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

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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!”

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